It had been 14 games since Akeem Olajuwon played a game for the Houston Rockets, and when he returned it was with skills intact.
Olajuwon had 19 points and 9 rebounds Saturday night while leading the Rockets to a 148-116 victory over the Clippers. Houston's total set an arena record for team scoring at the Summit.
"I didn't think I was off," said Olajuwon, who injured his knee Feb. 15 in a game against the Clippers. "I had some trouble with my jumper, but I just wasn't hitting. My timing was good."
Olajuwon had not been scheduled to return to the lineup for another two games.
"This morning after the shoot-around, I felt like I could play. The coach left it up to me because I know my body better than anyone," Olajuwon said. "The knee brace I wore gave me a lot of confidence and security."
Olajuwon, an NBA All-Star center, is the Rockets' leading scorer with a 23-point average.
The Rockets responded to his return with a team-record 50 assists.
"I love it, I love it. It was marvelous," Rocket Coach Bill Fitch said. "The minutes he played tonight were painless. The rest of the players didn't know he was playing tonight. He was just hanging around the barn and we decided to put a saddle on him."
Jim Petersen had a career-high 19 points and Ralph Sampson had 18 as the Rockets improved their Midwest Division-leading record to 42-25.