for this game

Yao, Rockets hold off high-powered Warriors

Jan 30, 2008 - 5:35 AM By Gene Duffey PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- The Houston Rockets couldn't overcome the loss of Yao Ming in Sunday's home defeat to Utah. But Tuesday night, with him back in the starting lineup, they beat the Golden State Warriors without Tracy McGrady.

The Rockets blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, falling behind by a point before Yao carried them to a 111-107 victory over the Warriors.

Yao tied his season high with 36 points and grabbed 19 rebounds, scoring nine points in the final 2:30 to hold off the Warriors. He just missed the fourth 20-20 game of his career.

"We were able to get the ball to Yao and he made his free throws," Houston coach Rick Adelman said of his 7-6 center, who was 14-of-15 from the foul line in the game. "When he got fouled, we were in business. Yao is money."

Yao missed Sunday's game with the flu, the same problem that kept McGrady sidelined Tuesday.

"I'm 100 percent," Yao said. "At the beginning, I felt a little down. As the game got going I got warmed up."

The Rockets looked for him consistently down the stretch.

"We had a better variety (offensively), so it's tougher on (Golden State's 6-9 Al) Harrington to keep the ball away from him," Adelman said.

Yao scored nine points in a row for Houston after Golden State scored seven straight to close within 100-99 with 2:55 left to play.

"Yao was just too much for us," Warriors coach Don Nelson said. "We dug too big a hole and it was just too tough to climb the ladder."

Adelman started Luis Scola at power forward instead of Chuck Hayes to give Houston more offense without McGrady available. Scola scored eight points in the first quarter.

"Luis Scola gave us a lot of help early in the game and they were not able to double team as much," Yao said. "Why we can get me the ball on the post was our four man (Scola) was very aggressive today. This team has more experience (now) how to play without Tracy."

McGrady missed his 15th game of the season.

Scola helped the Rockets just off to a 23-6 lead and they held their biggest bulge at 52-31 with 4 1/2 minutes remaining in the first half.

What did Yao think of Adelman having so much confidence in him at the foul line?

"We need to hire a Chinese free-throw coach," he laughed. "I'm available."

Golden State had beaten Houston soundly in the first two meetings this season, winning by 19 in Oakland, California and by 17 in Houston.

"You've got to keep scoring against this team," Adelman said of the Warriors. "They're hard team to guard."

Harrington made two 3-pointers and Stephen Jackson and Baron Davis one each in a 4:50 span in the fourth to bring Golden State back from a 90-76 deficit earlier in the period.

Rafer Alston scored 17 points and added 11 assists and Luther Head chipped in with 20 points for Houston.

"They try to make you figure out their game and match up (to) them," Alston said of the Warriors. "It's hard to do since we have a big guy on the floor. On the flip side, they have to match up with Yao."

The Warriors briefly took the lead at 102-101 with 2:11 to go on Davis' 3-pointer, but Yao went back to work.

"We got back into the game, but Yao hit all his free throws and that killed us," said Jackson, who led the Warriors with 25 points. "He's a big boy and he was a handful. We couldn't stop him."

The Rockets were 26-of-32 from the foul line, with Head making all five of his free throws.

"They're real good in the backcourt," Head said of the Warriors. "Baron is a load and Monta Ellis is arguably the fastest player in the league end to end. We just tried real hard to keep those guys out of transition."

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