for this game

Artest, Rockets keep Clippers winless

Nov 8, 2008 - 7:36 AM By Jonathan Raber PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- The Houston Rockets remain a work in progress, but the early returns have been positive.

Ron Artest scored 23 points and Carl Landry added 20 off the bench to lead the Houston Rockets to a 92-83 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.

Yao Ming finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and five blocks and Luis Scola contributed 14 points in the Rockets' sixth straight road victory over the Clippers. All-Star guard Tracy McGrady had an off-night missing all five of his shots en route to two points.

"It's coming together, it's getting better," Artest said of Houston's 4-2 start. "Even though we won (Friday) it still wasn't an impressive game for the Houston Rockets. We haven't played our best ball yet and we still have a ways to go."

The win was a nice bounce-back for the Rockets, who suffered a 101-99 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Brandon Roy's deep buzzer-beating 3-pointer on Thursday.

"It's hard playing back-to-back (games)," Landry said. "But we stayed ready, we stayed hungry and we kept coming the whole game."

The Clippers fell to 0-6, their worst start in 10 years, and remain one of two teams searching for their first victory. They opened the 1998-99 campaign with 17 consecutive setbacks.

Baron Davis and Chris Kaman led the way with 23 points apiece for Los Angeles, which nearly dug out of an early 15-point deficit. Al Thornton scored 10 points and Marcus Camby collected 13 rebounds.

Trailing the entire way, the Clippers got within 88-83 on Davis' layup with 2:01 remaining. Following a missed shot by the Rockets, Kaman came up empty on the other end on a short shot that would have made it a one-possession game.

"Offensively, we just weren't able to finish," Kaman said. "And until that happens, I don't see us winning a game."

Landry then converted on a subsequent basket for two of his 10-fourth quarter points to push the Rockets' advantage to 90-83 and seal the victory.

Artest, who was acquired during the offseason in a trade from the Sacramento Kings, has proven to be a good fit with his new squad, while picking up the slack for McGrady on this night.

"I think we're trying to learn each other, trying to see how we're going to win together," Artest said. "Everybody's got to be ready to step up and play hard."

Scola got the Rockets off and running early, scoring 14 of his team's first 25 points as they opened a 25-10 advantage in the first quarter.

The Clippers chipped away at the lead, cutting the deficit to 59-58 when Kaman scored on a layup with 7:35 left in the third.. However, they would not be able to get over the hump.

It was another tough loss for a Clippers' team that was expected to compete for a postseason berth with their re-tooled roster.

"We're still not there yet," Los Angeles coach Mike Dunleavy said. "But I saw some progress (Friday), and we just have to keep working at it."

Clippers forward Tim Thomas left the game with 58 seconds left in the first with a sprained left ankle and did not return after getting tangled up near the basket while on offense.