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 Yao scores 24 to lead Rockets past Clippers

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PostSubject: Yao scores 24 to lead Rockets past Clippers   Thu Dec 04, 2008 5:53 pm

HOUSTON(AP) The Houston Rockets will have to win games the hard way until Tracy McGrady gets healthy.Yao
Ming had 24 points, Rafer Alston sank five 3-pointers and added 21, and
the Rockets beat the Los Angeles Clippers 103-96 on Wednesday night.Ron
Artest scored 19 points and Yao grabbed 10 rebounds and went 12-for-13
from the free throw line for the Rockets, who played their fourth
straight game without McGrady. The seven-time All-Star is out three
weeks with a sore left knee.The Rockets overcame poor shooting
from the field by going 31-for-39 from the foul line - 12-for-14 in the
last six minutes - to beat the Clippers for the seventh straight time."That's
great when guys step up, because the only way you're going to win is
with the team,'' said Artest, who made only five of 15 shots but went
6-for-7 from the line. "We've just got to play the right way.''Houston
had four players in double figures, a recipe for success until McGrady,
its second-leading scorer and top playmaker returns. The Rockets had
six double-figure scorers in Saturday's 103-84 win over San Antonio,
their second game without their star."In this three weeks, we
need a little bit more from everybody,'' Yao said. "He is a big part of
our team. I think that everybody understands that, and everybody is
clear that when we step on the court, we need to really be ready to
play.''Al Thornton scored 24 and Zach Randolph had 23 points and
11 rebounds for the Clippers, who've dropped six of seven road games
this season.Baron Davis had 13 points and nine assists, despite
leaving in the first quarter with apparent food poisoning. He started
the second half and never came out of the game again, playing 34
minutes in all."I must have ate something before the game and it
didn't want to come down or out,'' Davis said. "I thought if I sat down
in the second half, I couldn't have continued. I tried to do something
to help my teammates. It just wasn't enough.''The Rockets led most of the way, but Thornton flew in for a dunk with 3:23 left to cut the lead to 95-89.Yao,
guarded by the shorter Randolph most of the game, flipped in a
turnaround 20 seconds later and Houston put away the game from the
line. The Rockets came in shooting 76.7 percent from the line and the
31 makes in 39 attempts were both season highs."That's remarkable whenever a team gets to the line that many times,'' said Alston, who went 4-for-6 on free throws.Yao
hit his first two shots, but the rest of the Rockets missed 12 of their
first 15. Yao also started 8-for-8 from the line to help Houston build
an early lead.Randolph struggled to guard Yao and when the
Rockets' center wasn't taking point-blank shots, he was getting swarmed
by the Clippers and going to the free-throw line."At the
beginning of the game, I tried to get a quick score and make them come
to double-team me,'' Yao said. "I know they have a couple of big guys,
so we can make some pressure inside.''But Houston had its own
problems controlling Randolph, who scored 18 in the first half. The
Rockets continued to shoot poorly from the field in the second quarter,
but led 53-46 at the break after going 17-for-21 from the line.Davis
started the third quarter, but Artest and Alston sank consecutive
3-pointers and the Rockets quickly pushed their lead to 15.The
Clippers answered with a 9-0 run to trim the deficit back to six. Later
in the quarter, Davis sank a 3-pointer and Randolph scored inside to
pull Los Angeles to within two.Davis had five assists and the
Clippers shot 60 percent (12-of-20) in the third quarter to trail only
77-76. Carl Landry and Shane Battier scored inside on consecutive trips
early in the fourth to extend Houston's lead again."It's tough playing uphill and trying to come back,'' Thornton said. "Down the stretch, Houston executed, like good teams do.''The Rockets led 87-83 when Yao returned after a rest with 6:07 remaining, and Houston never lost the lead.Notes:
Houston has won 19 of the last 22 meetings with the Clippers. ...
Clippers C Chris Kaman sat out for the third straight game with a
strained left arch. Coach Mike Dunleavy said that Kaman would probably
miss "another week to 10 days.'' ... Rockets G Steve Francis was
activated for the first time this season, but did not play. ... The
Clippers are off to their worst start since opening the 1998-99 season
with 17 straight losses.

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