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Alston, shorthanded Rockets rout Sonics

Apr 10, 2008 - 4:14 AM By Jeremy Rakes PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

HOUSTON (Ticker) - Playing without Tracy McGrady didn't hamper the Houston Rockets any Wednesday night.

Rafer Alston scored 18 points and Luther Head, who started in place of McGrady, netted 16 to lead the Rockets to an easy 103-80 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics.

Alston, who had missed the last three games with a strained left hamstring, hit on 6-of-11 and dished out five assists to pick up the slack left by McGrady, who sat with a sore left shoulder.

"We've played without (Tracy) a couple of times this season, so I believe we were a little prepared today," Alston said. "We want to win. You always want to win. We want to continue to stay in a good rhythm. We just want to finish the season on a winning note and work on the things we need to work on."

Head found out during shootaround that he would be starting in place of McGrady.

"Whenever Tracy goes out, I try to do some things to help," Head said. "I put the ball on the floor and shoot the ball. I try to do some of the things he does. I'm not him, but I can try to fill his position."

Houston created a comfortable lead in the third behind a 14-0 lead to open up a 65-44 lead with 6:02 remaining. Rookie Luis Scola scored eight of his 13 points in the run.

Seattle held a 23-21 lead after one, but Houston used an 11-0 spurt in the second to open a 36-28 advantage on Bobby Jackson's 3-pointer with 6:44 left. The Rockets closed the half on a 10-4 surge to take a 46-37 lead at intermission.

Steve Novak scored a career-high 17 points and Scola pulled down 12 rebounds for Houston, which held Seattle to 11 points in the second and received 48 points from its bench.

"I'm really proud of our bench guys," Houston coach Rick Adelman said. "I mean they just stepped up. Luther started the game for Tracy, and he came out with a lot of energy.

"Then, everybody off the bench. It was a great effort by the guys. The guys that we needed to step up off the bench did a good job. It was just a good win. We just have to keep winning games."

Kevin Durant had 26 points and Earl Watson added 16 points for Seattle, which shot just 36 percent (32-of-88) from the field.

"I didn't like the way we play," Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "A number of our guys didn't shoot the ball well, and I didn't like our defense. We had a number of possessions if we had made an extra pass we have gotten better shots.

"We ended up with a lot of late shots, but that was mostly because of Houston's good defense."

Houston forward Shane Battier left the game a second time with 4:47 remaining in the third with a bruised left ankle.

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