for this game

Rockets continue domination of Clippers

Dec 4, 2008 - 5:12 AM By Ted Dunnam PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Quietly but efficiently, Yao Ming made sure the Houston Rockets maintained their dominance of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Yao had 24 points and 10 rebounds Wednesday as the Rockets defeated the Clippers for the seventh consecutive time, 103-96.

Rafer Alston added 21 points and Ron Artest scored 19 for the Rockets, who led by as many as 15 points in the second half.

Al Thornton scored 19 of his team-high 24 points after halftime as the Clippers closed to 77-76 at the end of three quarters. However, the Rockets scored the first six points of the final period and the Clippers could get no closer than four at 87-83 in the final seven minutes.

Yao played just 30 minutes, but it proved to be time well spent in limited action.

"Yao was aggressive tonight," Artest said. "He only took eight shots, but he made a lot of free throws.

"He just has to continue to be aggressive against everybody."

No one knows that better than Yao.

"We were attacking the rim," Yao said. "We know that we are missing Tracy (McGrady) for three weeks and we need a little bit more from everybody.

"Everybody is very clear that when we step on the court, we need to really be ready to play."

Rockets reserve forward Carl Landry scored six of Houston's first 10 points in the fourth quarter in helping the Rockets beat the Clippers for the 19th time in the last 22 meetings.

"I was trying to do whatever I could, and that was bring energy," Landry said. "I felt like the bench played well. We kept fighting and fighting and came out with a win."

Houston opened as large as a 15-point lead on Yao's jumper at the 10:03 mark of third quarter, only to see the Clippers cut their deficit to 77-76 on Baron Davis' 3-pointer.

"We gave a valiant effort on the road," Davis said. "We are continuing to make strides. We're shorthanded, but we have enough to win."

Thornton scored 11 points in the quarter to lead Los Angeles' rally.

Yao didn't miss a shot in the first half in helping stake the Rockets to a 53-46 lead.

He scored 14 points, connecting on both of his shots from the field and made all 10 of his free-throw attempts.

The Rockets led 27-19 after one quarter with Yao scoring 10 points and Alston contributing nine on three 3-pointers. The Clippers enjoyed their only lead of the first half at 14-13 on a basket by Zach Randolph.

Randolph kept the Clippers close in the opening half with 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting.

Houston's biggest lead in the first half was at 29-19 when Landry scored the first basket of the second quarter.

Randolph finished with 23 points but scored only two in the fourth quarter.

"Houston just hit big shots down the stretch," Randolph said. "Yao is a great player and it was hard for us to stop him inside."

The Rockets used a free-throw advantage to outlast the Clippers. Los Angeles had 40 baskets to Houston's 31, but the Rockets enjoyed a 31-11 advantage at the line. The Clippers were charged with 26 fouls to the Rockets' 16 as Houston had 39 free-throw attempts to 16 for Los Angeles.

Yao made 12 of 13 free-throw attempts.

"We got him the ball," Rockets coach Rick Adelman said of Yao. "Even though they have (Marcus) Camby in there who can really block shots, we felt we could get to the basket and put pressure on them if we just kept our mindset."

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