Adelman wins No. 800 as Rockets continue to rollMar 25, 2008 - 6:00 AM By Gene Duffey PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Rick Adelman won his 800th game as the Houston Rockets stayed in the hunt for the top spot in the Western Conference.
Rafer Alston scored 28 points and Tracy McGrady came alive in the fourth quarter to help the Rockets put away the Adelman's former team, the Sacramento Kings, 108-100, on Monday night.
Houston (48-23), which had its 22-game winning streak snapped last Tuesday, is just one game behind the Los Angeles Lakers (49-22) for first place in the competitive Western Conference.
"It feels like 800," said Adelman, looking a little worn out after the game that wasn't decided until the final 70 seconds. "When you get something like that, you think about all the great things that have happened to you. It's very gratifying."
Adelman won most of the games coaching Portland for six years and Sacramento for eight.
"I had two great situations before this," said Adelman, who also coached Golden State for two years, the only two seasons he didn't reach the playoffs in 16 campaigns. "A lot of guys in this league don't get a chance to coach even one good team."
"That's great for him," said Sacramento forward Ron Artest, who scored 17 points. "He turned my career around. I hope he coaches for a long time and goes to the Hall of Fame."
McGrady was sorry to see former Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy go after last season, but he was happy that Adelman was the man to replace him.
"It's his personality, really laid back, understanding the players, giving the players their confidence," McGrady said. "One thing I really admire about coach is his rotation and his ability to put guys out there in the right situation. He gives young guys the opportunity to go out there in the right situation and succeed."
McGrady twisted his left ankle with 7:42 left in the first quarter. He stayed in the game, but Alston had to pick up his offense.
"In the first half, it took a while to run it off," McGrady said of the ankle. "The second half it was fine."
McGrady scored nine points on 2-of-12 shooting through the three quarters, which ended with Houston on top 77-72. But he scored eight points in the decisive fourth quarter, making 3-of-4 shots.
"It was a close game," McGrady explained. "I had missed some easy shots. The fourth quarter I want to assert myself."
McGrady said the ankle was fine after the game, but he did have an ice bag taped to his left shoulder. He said he sprained that late in the game running into a pick.
Alston played consistently throughout, shooting 9-of-17 from the field, including 3-of-6 from outside the arc, and 7-of-8 from the line. He added five assists without a turnover in 39 minutes.
"Rafer was good all night," Adelman said.
"Tonight we went to the line, made some free throws, more than we have been making down the stretch, and got the victory," said Alston, whose team made 33-of-42 foul shots. "Being a point guard, I've always believed in going to the line late (in a game)."
"He had a very nice game and has played extremely well all season," Sacramento coach Reggie Theus said of Alston. "He's been solid, and that's why Houston is where they are now."
Sacramento didn't make it easy on Houston.
The Kings last led 30-29 early in the second quarter but stayed in the game until the final minute. Sacramento closed within 91-89 on Artest's drive with 4:13 to play.
"It was tough to overcome their free-throw shooting," Theus said. "We had some runs, but then they went to the free-throw line, and it was a rally killer."
Kevin Martin scored 18 points in just 31 minutes due to foul trouble and fouled out with 33 seconds to play for Sacramento.
Reserve forward Chuck Hayes gave the Rockets a lift, scoring a season-high 10 points to go with seven rebounds, four assists and some good defense on Artest.
"Chuck was tremendous," Adelman said. "He guarded Ron, and he's a tough cover. He made his free throws, he made big plays and got big rebounds."
"He's a load," Hayes said of trying to contend with Artest. "There's no way rooting him out his position. He's strong. I told myself, 'Don't foul him.'"
Hayes, who has a hesitation in his foul shot that often draws lane violations from opponents, made 4-of-5 free throws.
"It's not orthodox, it's not the prettiest thing," Hayes said of his foul shot. "Everybody in the world has tried to change it. But I've been doing it for a long while."
HOUSTON 108 FINAL
Mar 24 11:02 PM
HOUSTON 77 END, 3RD QTR
Mar 24 10:20 PM
HOUSTON 53 HALFTIME
Mar 24 9:37 PM
HOUSTON 26 END, 1ST QTR
Mar 24 9:06 PM
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