for this game

Yao, Brooks help Rockets send Knicks to another loss

Jan 6, 2008 - 5:20 AM By Jeremy Rakes PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Playing without Tracy McGrady for a sixth straight game, and Steve Francis for a fourth in a row, didn't hurt as the Houston Rockets stormed to a double-digit lead after the first quarter and never looked back.

Yao Ming collected 30 points, eight rebounds and six assists and rookie Aaron Brooks added 22 points for the Rockets, who sent the New York Knicks to their seventh straight loss, 103-91, Saturday night at Toyota Center.

Rafer Alston netted 14 points and Luis Scola and Luther Head each added 10 for Houston, which was without McGrady (knee) and Francis (quadriceps).

"It was a good win for us," Rockets coach Rick Adelman said. "The only thing I'm really disappointed in is the way we finished the first half. We've just got to have a way to finish quarters stronger than we do.

"Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the back-to-back coming out and the way we approached the game. It was just a big lift to get this one at home after winning (Friday). Now, we're back to .500, and now we've got to go on the road again and see if we can move ahead of .500."

After trailing by as many as 20 in the first half, the Knicks closed to within seven, 79-72, on David Lee's free throw with 10:50 remaining in the game. But Houston quickly upped the lead back to double figures with a 7-2 spurt, capped by Brooks' layup with 8:38 remaining.

"I remember we had like an eight-point lead, and then we had a 9-0 run," Yao said. "All those pick-and-rolls led to guys attacking the paint and being aggressive. With all of the big guys coming to me, they didn't think the small guys were going to get layups."

New York (8-24) cut the lead to nine, 100-91, on Zach Randolph's tip-in with 2:36 left capping an 8-0 run, but that was as close as the Knicks would get.

"We fought hard," Randolph said. "They hit big shots. I wanted to play my game and hit the board and get the dirty baskets. I wanted to let the game come to me. We have to keep playing hard."

The Rockets outscored the Knicks, 16-5, to end the first quarter to take a 27-13 lead at the end of one.

Shane Battier ignited the run with a layup with 5:34 remaining in the quarter, and Bonzi Wells ended the quarter scoring five of the final seven, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

The Rockets continued to extend their lead in the second quarter, building the lead to 43-23 with 6:22 left in the quarter on Wells' jumper.

After Yao upped Houston's lead to 19, the Knicks closed the half on a 10-4 spurt to close within 13 points at the half. Nate Robinson scored the final six points in the run on two 3-pointers.

"I'm beginning to feel a little bit more comfortable out there, and it helps when I have Rafer out there with me," Brooks said. "I hit my first shot, and I got comfortable. I started feeling good.

"Coach has a lot of confidence in me, having me out there at the end of the game. I'm feeling confident from playing in tight games in college, but with Yao and Rafer out there hitting shots, there is no pressure on me."

The Knicks closed within nine to start the second half on Robinson's jumper with 10:44 remaining in the third, but Houston extended its lead back to 17 on Yao's dunk with 4:50 left in the third.

New York got as close as eight on Stephon Marbury's jumper with less than a minute to go, but the Rockets went into the fourth leading, 79-69.

"We missed defensive assignments early and let Houston get a big lead," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. "In the second half, I liked our effort, and we fought hard. Turnovers hurt us. I don't think we took a step backward because our fight and intensity was there. We didn't play as smart as we can. You can't throw the basketball away on the road."

Robinson scored 25 points, and Randolph had 18 and 22 rebounds for New York.

"I play against Aaron all the time," said Robinson, who grew up in Seattle. "I have been seeing that kid since he was eight years-old, and I have always known he can play the game. It is fun watching his career grow. He did a great job tonight."

  • NBA
    NEW YORK 91

    Jan 5 10:47 PM

  • NBA
    NEW YORK 69

    Jan 5 10:17 PM

  • NBA
    NEW YORK 42

    Jan 5 9:36 PM

  • NBA
    NEW YORK 13

    Jan 5 9:08 PM