Smith Lifts Rockets Into Game 7 : NBA playoffs: Guard scores 30 points as Houston pulls away from Seattle in third quarter for a 103-90 victory.
Kenny Smith picked the perfect time to find his shooting touch.
The embattled Houston guard, three of 13 on field goals in his previous two games, scored 30 points Thursday night, including 10 in a take-charge third quarter, leading the Rockets to a 103-90 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics.
The victory kept the Rockets from being eliminated from their Western Conference playoff series and forced Game 7 in Seattle on Saturday.
“I think it was important for me to take my shots tonight,” Smith said. “We just have to stay aggressive. Myself and Vernon (Maxwell) have to shoulder the burden. Both of us talked about doing that both defensively and offensively.”
Smith was 13 of 16 from the field, including four three-pointers, in the highest scoring playoff game of his career.
He had 15 points in the first half and 10 in the third quarter when the Rockets outscored Seattle, 36-15. Maxwell, scoreless in the first half, had 12 third-quarter points.
“I just want to talk about Kenny Smith,” forward Otis Thorpe said. “You could see by the look in his eyes that he knew he could do better. He knew he had to take it to the hole.”
He did, giving the Rockets one more chance in Seattle Coliseum, where they haven’t won a game in this series.
Sam Perkins and Derrick McKey led Seattle with 14 points apiece, but Shawn Kemp, who had 19 points in Game 5, scored only one point, that coming with 7:07 left. Houston center Hakeem Olajuwon was limited to 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“Their two guards shot well tonight,” Gary Payton said. “Now it’s up to us to take over Saturday. They did the job on their home court. Fortunately, the last game is on our home court.”
“We blew them out by 25 and they came back and blew us out. But that doesn’t mean a thing whether it’s one or 25 points.”
The SuperSonics jumped on the Rockets from the start, just as they did in their 120-95 victory in Game 5, and fought off every challenge for a 47-43 halftime lead.
But the Rockets looked like a different team in the third quarter. They started with an 18-11 run that vaulted them to a 61-58 lead with 6:12 to go in the period.
Then they used another 18-4 charge and ended the quarter with a 79-62 lead.