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 Battier, Yao lead Rockets past Nets 114-88

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PostSubject: Battier, Yao lead Rockets past Nets 114-88   Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:29 pm

HOUSTON(AP) The Houston Rockets made it look easy against the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday night.Yao Ming had 20 points and 12 rebounds and Shane Battier scored a season-high 19 points in the Rockets' 114-88 rout.Von
Wafer scored 19 points and Ron Artest added 18 for the Rockets, who
outrebounded New Jersey 56-30 and set season highs in 3-point field
goals (15) and assists (27) in their sixth straight win over the Nets."We
had a great game passing the ball and our spacing was excellent,'' said
Battier, who went 5-for-7 from 3-point range. "When we play like that,
everybody gets shots and when you move the ball like that, you have
more confidence in your shooting. Good things happen when you run the
offense the way you are supposed to.''The Rockets' season has
been marred by inconsistency, a puzzling mix of wins over playoff-bound
teams and losses to mediocre opponents. They were sharp from
start-to-finish against the overmatched Nets, who trailed by at least
14 points the entire second half."We were always worried about
how we were going to play after the (All-Star) break,'' Battier said.
"We had about four days off and I feel like after practicing, the
passion is there and it seems like everybody feels like we can't waste
any time. We wanted to get our rest and come back and play the way we
needed to play.''Artest started in place of Tracy McGrady, who
sat out for the second straight game and the 19th time this season with
an injury. McGrady said just before the All-Star break that he would
take an indefinite leave to seek input from doctors on the best course
of treatment for his troublesome left knee.The Rockets improved to 13-6 without McGrady this season.Vince
Carter scored 30 points and Brook Lopez added 21 for the Nets, who have
lost three straight after a four-game winning streak."It was a
tough night,'' Carter said. "We have to do better if we want to win. We
have to focus for 48 minutes and they took the life out of us.''Yi
Jianlian scored five points for the Nets in his first game since Jan.
9, when he went out with a broken finger on his right hand. Yi quietly
checked into the game with 7:52 left in the first quarter. Last season,
Yi's arrival in Houston to face Yao's Rockets created a media frenzy
and was a major event in China - the first time the nation's two
biggest basketball stars faced off in the NBA. The Rockets beat Yi and
Milwaukee 104-88.In this one, Yao outmuscled Yi for an offensive
rebound and dunked to give the Rockets their first lead, 17-16. The
Nets missed 12 of their last 13 shots in the first quarter and Yao's
dunk continued a 17-1 run that eventually put Houston up 27-17.The
Rockets missed their first eight shots of the second quarter and led
only 28-23 after Lopez ended New Jersey's 8-minute field goal drought
with a fadeaway.Houston then took control with an 18-5 spurt,
holding the Nets to two field goals over a 6-minute stretch. The
Rockets outrebounded New Jersey 32-21 in the half and led 56-40."We
fought back and midway through the second quarter, they knocked down
shots and we never recovered,'' said Devin Harris, who scored 10 points
for the Nets.Carter scored 16 points on 6-for-13 shooting in the first half - the rest of the Nets went 9-for-30 from the field.The
Rockets maintained their comfortable lead in the second half and even
started getting lucky bounces. Luis Scola threw a high pass to Yao and
the ball skipped off Yao's fingertips and rattled into the basket.Yao came out with 4:19 left in the game and Houston leading 100-77.Notes:
Carter reached 30 points for the eighth time this season, but for the
first time since Dec. 29. ... Houston reserve F Carl Landry sprained
his right ankle fighting for a loose ball late in the first half and
did not return. Landry had six points and seven rebounds. ... Before
the game, Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said the team wasn't likely to
deal McGrady before Thursday's trade deadline. "I don't think we're
going to part ways with Tracy,'' Alexander said. "We acquired a great
superstar and everybody wants us to trade the great superstar. You
don't get superstars that often.'' McGrady did not attend Tuesday's
game.

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