for this game

Yao takes over in the fourth to lead Rockets over Warriors

Dec 6, 2008 - 6:10 AM By Gene Duffey PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- At 7-6 and with a soft touch, Houston Rockets center Yao Ming should be almost unstoppable. He was just that Friday night in the fourth quarter against the Golden State Warriors.

Yao scored 19 of his season-high 33 points points in the fourth to lead the Rockets to a 131-112 win in a shootout at the Toyota Center.

Yao made all five of his field-goal attempts and all nine of his free throws in the fourth to help the Rockets break away from a 101-101 tie with 7 1/2 minutes to play. He went 8-of-12 from the field overall but really punished Golden State at the line, where he was 17-of-19.

"Yao had a man's game tonight," Rockets forward Shane Battier said. "He played like the All-Star that he is. When the big fella plays like that, it is tough to beat us."

Golden State kept Yao fairly well in check for three quarters.

"All their big guys fouled out," Yao said. "My teammates kept attacking the rim. We knew a lot of them were in foul trouble. We got some kick-outs for the 3-point shots. Rafer (Alston), Shane and Ron (Artest) kept making the 3-pointers.

"When you keep getting to the foul line, it makes the game a lot easier. When I get a deep catch in the paint and turn around, draw fouls, draw contact, seven or eight out of 10 times the referee with give you the call."

The Rockets made 36-of-40 from the foul line.

"We got the ball to Yao in the second half and he was very aggressive," Houston coach Rick Adelman said. "They didn't have any answers to him."

Golden State forward Ronny Turiaf, who was guarding Yao, committed his fourth foul with three minutes remaining in the second quarter, but Golden State coach Don Nelson kept him in the game. Turiaf was whistled for fifth foul with 51 seconds left in the half.

Turiaf started the second half but lasted less than three minutes before fouling again, his sixth, ending his evening. Warriors center Andris Biedrins followed Turiaf to the bench with his sixth foul with 4:20 to play in the game, with Golden State trailing by eight.

"Yao plays like he's eight feet tall and there are not many people who can guard him," said Golden State's Corey Maggette, who scored 23 points. "It's hard for our small lineup to defend him inside. Then when we got in foul trouble, it was impossible to stop him."

Yao had plenty of help on the offensive end with Ron Artest scoring 28 points, Rafer Alston and Von Wafer adding 18 each.

"When we're balanced, that's when we're at our best," said Battier, who made all four of his 3-point attempts.

Alston, who entered the game shooting 34 percent from beyond the arc, made 3-of-5 from long range and Artest connected on 4-of-9 attempts.

"The floor spreads open," Alston said of being able to make his 3-pointers. "When I don't have it going, then they compact everything."

Wafer, who hadn't played in three of Houston's last five games, came off the bench early to give the Rockets a boost.

"I just try to stay ready," Wafer said. "(The Warriors) try to get up and down the floor. Coach felt like I was the right player for the situation. You knew it was going to be a high-scoring game. I try to provide energy. Coach believes I can score."

Houston All-Star Tracy McGrady missed his fifth game in a row with soreness in his left knee. He is expected to be out another two to three weeks.

Nelson also missed the last quarter, after being ejected with 2:43 remaining in the third quarter. He was whistled for two quick technicals during a timeout with his Warriors down only three.

The Warriors lost their eighth in a row, including seven on the road.

"Our guys played a good game and had a chance to win," said Golden State assistant Keith Smart, who took over for Nelson. "Houston hit some big threes that killed us."

Stephen Jackson led the Warriors with 26 points and Jamal Crawford added 22.

"We scrambled too much (on defense) and they were hitting their shots," Jackson said. "We doubled Yao down low and their shooters were left open and hit their shots. We played small and we had to double team Yao and we gave them a lot of open looks."