Despite a patchwork lineup that featured three reserves as starters, the Rockets used an 18-0 run in the first quarter to beat the Clippers, 124-104, Tuesday night, avenging an embarrassing loss to the Clippers last week.
But the real excitement came from the news that Portland had traded former Houston Cougar Drexler and forward Tracy Murray to the Rockets for forward Otis Thorpe and a conditional first-round draft pick.
"It was awfully tough to focus in with so many things going on," Houston guard Kenny Smith said. "We always seem to play better when these things happen. It didn't surprise me that we played well."
Hakeem Olajuwon scored 26 points and Scott Brooks added a career-high 23.
"It was a good opportunity for guys that don't always play a lot to get into the game," said Brooks, who was averaging 2.8 points in 25 games. "It was fun getting a win and scoring some points was nice."
It was a complete turnaround from last Thursday's 122-107 Clipper victory at Los Angeles.
"The shots we were making then just weren't there tonight," the Clippers' Pooh Richardson said.
"The first quarter we shot poorly and they shot the lights out," said Clipper Coach Bill Fitch. "Then we brought our defense down to our offense and--boom!--the game was over."
The outcome seemed settled midway in the first quarter when the Rockets used their 18-0 spurt over a 4:23 span to go up 25-6.
"They beat us real good last time, and we wanted to destroy that confidence early," Olajuwon said.
Loy Vaught led the Clippers with 20 points.
Vernon Maxwell, the suspended Rocket guard, filed a federal lawsuit in Houston, claiming the fan he punched, Steve George, along with his brother, Nick George, slandered him by "maliciously accusing him of a crime, namely assault." George has denied making any derogatory remarks about Maxwell and has demanded Maxwell retract the accusations. . . . The Rockets put forward Robert Horry on the injured list to give him time to recover from a strained back muscle, leaving the team with only nine players.