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Jackson, Warriors hold on to beat Rockets

Apr 5, 2007 - 7:34 AM HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Stephen Jackson and the Golden State Warriors were not going to let a second chance pass them by.

Jackson hit a 3-pointer with just over two minutes remaining as the Warriors held off a late rally by the Houston Rockets to post a 110-99 victory for their third straight win.

Jason Richardson scored 27 points and Baron Davis added 25 for Golden State (36-39), which continued its quest for its first playoff berth since 1994 remaining within 1 1/2 games of the eighth-place Los Angeles Clippers, who beat the Lakers on Wednesday, 90-82.

The Warriors were helped by the absence of Houston star Tracy McGrady, who left the game in the first quarter due to a stiff lower back and did not return.

"We needed to beat a good team on the road, and it couldn't have come at a better time," Golden State coach Don Nelson said. "We followed a heck of a good game plan, and it helped that Tracy did not play after the first quarter."

"The basketball gods were with us when Tracy couldn't play," said Jackson, who shot 5-of-12 from the field and handed out six assists.

In all, McGrady appeared in six minutes, missing all three of his shots from the field.

"My back has been stiff for about a week now, and it's just getting worse," McGrady said. "Today was just one of those days where I felt like I didn't want to risk anything going out on the basketball court."

Although Golden State led by as many as 16 points in the fourth quarter, it saw that cushion sliced to 100-96 with 2:35 left after Juwan Howard hit a jump hook in the lane to cap a 16-3 burst.

Richardson attempted to stem the tide with a 3-pointer, but it was off the mark. However, Howard was whistled for a foul attempting to box out Andris Biedrins on the weak side.

Howard was clearly bothered by the call, choosing to not speak about it after the game.

With the second chance, Jackson came through, hitting his second 3-pointer of the game for a seven-point cushion.

"We hit a lot of big shots," Jackson said. "This was a much-needed win. This was my first time winning in Houston, my hometown, and it's my birthday (29)."

Howard then split two free throws before Davis' jumper with 1:30 left pushed the Warriors' lead to 105-97.

Houston then missed three of its final four shots and committed two turnovers to seal its second straight setback.

Turnovers proved to be a major problem for the Rockets, who committed 23 turnovers - one shy of their season high. Nine turnovers came in the first quarter as Houston struggled getting the ball into the post to Yao Ming, who faced the full attention of Golden State, especially when McGrady left the game.

"We wanted to limit Yao's touches, and Al Harrington did a great job containing him," said Richardson, who shot 7-of-11 on 3-pointers. "Going to the smaller lineup was huge because we forced them to play a smaller lineup, too."

"Turnovers, more than anything, were the problem tonight," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "Yao was attracting two guys before he got the ball. The three perimeter players that played the most had a combined 16 turnovers so we have to handle the ball better."

Ming finished with nine points on 2-of-4 shooting and 11 rebounds. It was his lowest scoring output since managing just two when he broke his right leg against the Los Angeles Clippers on December 23.

Picking up in McGrady's absence was Luther Head, who finished with career highs with 30 points and seven 3-pointers.

"I felt good on the court, and the guys were finding me," Head said. "My shot was feeling good, so I just tried to keep going with it. Rafer (Alston), Shane (Battier) ... all the guys were finding me, so I had some opportunities to make some buckets."

Alston added 18 points and Battier 17 for the Rockets, who remained 1 1/2 games behind Utah for the fourth spot in the Western Conference. The Jazz dropped a 94-89 decision at Portland on Wednesday.

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