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Barkley says booze affected his playing

Admitting he has had a drinking problem, Charles Barkley says he is on the wagon now "because I haven't played as I would have liked to this season."

"I've got to stop drinking. I drink way too much and it has been affecting my game," the Houston forward said after he hit the game-winning shot in the Rockets' 90-88 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday.Barkley said he stopped drinking alcohol after discussing his problem with close friends and teammates. Now when he goes out to bars, he drinks soda.

"I can't drink and play," he said. "It's just been consistently wearing my body down and I wasn't as consistent as I need to be or would like to be. I owe the people I work for an honest effort."

Barkley, who turns 35 on Friday, went public with his problem in an interview with NBC analyst Steve Jones that aired before Sunday's game.

Barkley said he quit drinking a month ago. Barkley, an 11-time All-Star, did not make the team this season for the first time since 1985-86. At his own request, he has come off the bench the past four games.