108 - 103 Final
  for this game

Yao, Rockets hand Clippers fourth consecutive loss

Dec 18, 2006 - 2:07 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- This time around, Yao Ming made sure the Houston Rockets got it done in regulation.

Yao had 32 points and 10 rebounds and Rafer Alston added 26 points and eight assists as the Rockets ended their three-game slide with a 108-103 triumph over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Since superstar Tracy McGrady has been sidelined with back spasms three games ago, Houston has suffered two consecutive overtime setbacks, including a 112-101 double-overtime defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.

Los Angeles has dropped their fourth consecutive decision. They also endured a season-worst five-game losing streak from November 21-28.

A four-time All-Star, Yao has been on a roll of late. The 7-6 import is averaging 35 points, 14.3 rebounds and 3.6 blocks over his last three contests. He has 11 double-doubles this season.

"When Yao is as efficient as he was, it makes everyone else's job so much easier," Rockets forward Shane Battier said. "He gives us so much confidence when he plays like that and performs on the defensive end, it just works so well."

"It is a fine line between when to double team and when not to double team a guy like Yao," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "They made us pay the price on some of our double teams with their 3-point shooting."

Trailing by one point after two quarters, Houston used an impressive 11-0 burst to begin the third period to take a 56-46 advantage with 8:56 remaining. Yao and Shane Battier combined to score all the points in the surge.

"I think we started slow but then played well. We played harder on defense," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "We didn't turn the ball over. So if you make your shots and don't turn it over, that is a good combination."

The Clippers rallied in the fourth quarter, when Corey Maggette scored on a driving layup with 19 seconds left to make it a three-point deficit. But Alston and Luther Head combined to sink 5-of-6 free throws to seal the game.

Head scored 14 points and Bonzi Wells added 12 off the bench for the Rockets, who shot 52 percent (39-of-74) from the floor and held a 46-36 edge in points in the paint.

Houston's defense continues to be a staple this campaign, holding its opponent under 50 percent for the 23rd straight contest.

Shaun Livingston collected 21 points, nine rebounds and six assists and Chris Kaman chipped in 20 points and 11 rebounds for Los Angeles, which shot 48 percent (35-of-72).

"Before we were just having a hard time on the road," said Clippers forward Elton Brand, who scored 19 points. "Now we have injuries that are bothering us. It's disheartening and very disappointing. We fell behind and caught up at halftime to have a chance. But that's a good team over there."

Despite his steady play, Maggette's name continues to be rumored in several trade talks. He scored 19 points off the bench.

"It's up to the organization. I'm still a Clipper now," Maggette said. "My focus is with the Clippers. You never know what is going to go down. What ever happens is going to happen anyway."

Clippers forward Tim Thomas left in the first quarter with an elbow injury and did not return. X-rays came back negative, but he is listed as day-to-day.

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