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 Rockets hold down LeBron, rout Cavs

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PostSubject: Rockets hold down LeBron, rout Cavs   Fri Feb 27, 2009 9:24 pm

HOUSTON(AP) LeBron James missed shots,
complained to the refs and went an entire game without an assist for
the first time in his career.The Houston Rockets, meanwhile,
showed they just might be contenders in the Western Conference with a
93-74 win over James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night.Yao
Ming scored 28 points and Ron Artest added 15 while harassing James on
defense most of the night, leading the Rockets to their six consecutive
win and ninth straight at home."It is a big win,'' said Yao, who
hit 13 of 15 shots, despite Cleveland's constant double-teams. "We
played against one of the best quality teams in this league. That is a
really good test for us to see how far we can go.''James scored
21 points, but went 7-for-21 from the field with three turnovers. He
left for good with 4:03 left, the only time in 493 NBA games (counting
playoffs) he failed to record an assist."I'm not happy with that
at all,'' James said. "I can't remember the last time I didn't have an
assist, but as a team, we didn't move the ball at all. We'll just move
on to the next game.''To make matters worse, forward Ben Wallace
broke his right leg in the second quarter and will miss 4-6 weeks, the
team said. Wallace is Cleveland's best interior defender, but went out
after Yao accidentally kicked him."I'll definitely be back for
the playoffs, I'm hoping to come back before then,'' Wallace said.
"Realistically, I don't know how much I'd help the team, just coming
back for the playoffs. It'd be tough, I'd be out of rhythm. I don't
want to go out there and put my team at a disadvantage. It's more on me
to catch up with them.''The Cavaliers had season-low point
totals in the first (11) and third (10) quarters, and their 34 percent
shooting (27-for-80) was also a season worst. Cleveland looked just as
bad as it did in a 92-77 loss in Houston last season - James had 32 in
that one, but the Cavs shot 39.7 percent."We just can't seem to
get into a good flow against the Houston team,'' James said. "A lot of
credit has to go to them, they are a very good team. Offensively, we
couldn't make a shot and we could never get in any rhythm.''Von
Wafer scored 19 points and Luis Scola added 14 points and nine rebounds
for the Rockets. Houston had 25 assists, its sixth straight game with
20 or more, and went 8-for-19 from 3-point range.But the Rockets
are more satisifed with their defense lately - they've held their last
six opponents to an average of 83.6 points."You may get into the
second round (of the playoffs), but if you want to make a serious run
and be a serious contender,'' said Wafer, "you've got to be able to
continue to play defense. We are trying to come together as a unit.''Mo Williams also scored 21 for the Cavs, who had a five-game winning streak snapped.Shadowed
by the equally strong Artest from the opening tip, James missed three
of his first four shots, part of Cleveland's 2-for-10 start. The Cavs
double-teamed Yao whenever he touched the ball, but Scola scored eight
early points to help Houston build a lead.James was called for a
charge late in the opening quarter when he spun into Shane Battier on a
drive. The Cavs went 3-for-17 from the field in the quarter and trailed
19-11."They wanted us to take jump shots,'' said Cleveland coach
Mike Brown. "They gave us the jump shot, but we just couldn't convert
it.''James was resting on the bench at the start of the second
period and Williams' 3-pointer from the top of the key ended a
six-minute field goal drought for Cleveland.Kyle Lowry scored on
consecutive trips, then assisted on Yao's layup and Brent Barry's
3-pointer as Houston pushed the lead into double digits.James
kept missing shots in the second quarter and earned another offensive
foul after bumping into Battier again. He sank a 3-pointer from the
wing, his second basket in nine shots, before Artest drove for a
left-handed dunk for a 37-29 Rockets lead.The Cavs shot 31 percent (14-for-45) from the field in the first half and trailed 45-40 at the break.The
Rockets had assists on their first five baskets of the second half and
Aaron Brooks' 3-pointer put Houston up 56-46. James tried a no-look,
over-his-head pass to Anderson Varejao later in the period, but the
ball sailed out of bounds."Couldn't get a rhythm, man,'' James said.The Cavs shot 5-for-17 from the field and coughed up five turnovers in the third quarter to trail 68-50.James
took a rest and returned with 7:21 left in the game, but the Rockets
never lost control. Yao blocked James on a dunk and Wafer swished a
3-pointer at the other end for an 85-68 lead.Notes: Cavs G
Delonte West had four points and three turnovers after missing
Tuesday's game against Memphis with soreness in his right wrist. On
Wednesday, West visited a doctor in Houston who confirmed that his
wrist fracture was healing properly. ... Rockets F Carl Landry missed
his fourth straight game with a sprained right ankle. ... The Cavs are
18-4 against the West this season.

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