Late run pushes Rockets past HawksDec 10, 2008 - 5:13 AM By Jeremy Rakes PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Yao Ming scored 24 points and pulled down a season-high 19 rebounds to lead the Houston Rockets to a come-from-behind win over Atlanta, 92-84, on Tuesday night at Toyota Center.
Houston trailed, 76-68, with 7:58 left in the game after Josh Smith's 3-pointer but rallied to end the game on a 24-8 run en route to the victory.
"It was the last six minutes we went up by eight, and we got very happy like the game was already over," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "They came back, and we had no answer for them. We're playing hard but not for 48 minutes."
Yao led the charge with 10 points in the run, sparking the surge with a hook shot and giving Houston the lead for good, 79-78, on a layup with 3:53 remaining.
He put away the game on a hook shot with 1:55 remaining to make it 88-78.
"In the fourth quarter, I tried to catch the ball deeper, and they really did not come with the double team," Yao said. "They tried to play me 1-on-1 with (Al) Horford and (Zaza) Pachulia. I had missed several easy lay-ups in the third quarter. I didn't know how I missed them. I continued to shoot."
Atlanta started the second half on a 14-3 run to take a 53-49 lead, capped off by Mike Bibby's 3-pointer with 8:39 remaining in the third quarter. The Hawks led 62-60 after three.
"It's a really good win against a good team," Houston coach Rick Adelman said. "We were really up and down. We talked about at half how with Bibby and (Joe) Johnson, they can start making shots and that's what Johnson started doing in the second half.
"He brought them back and got them the lead, but our guys, they didn't quit. They responded, and they finished the game off really strong."
Houston jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first five minutes behind five points from Shane Battier and an 0-of-13 shooting start for Atlanta.
The Rockets extended their lead to as many as 16 at 23-7 with 3:09 remaining in the first quarter on Luis Scola's layup, but the Hawks cut their deficit to 27-16 after one.
"We came out on fire, but we have to keep it up the whole game," said Rockets guard Rafer Alston, who scored 12 points. "We had them down 25-9. All we have to do is mash on the gas a little bit more, and the game would have been over earlier, but we have to give them credit. They stuck in there and gave it a fight to the finish."
Atlanta rebounded in the second quarter from its 18 percent first-quarter shooting to close within five. A layup by Flip Murray with 2:12 left in the second quarter capped an 18-8 run, but Houston upped the lead to 46-38 at the half.
"Our shots weren't going down, and we had too many turnovers," Bibby said of the fourth-quarter meltdown. "It wasn't like we weren't going inside, but our shots weren't falling."
Ron Artest had 19 points and nine rebounds in his return to the starting lineup after sitting out Monday's game with a sore right ankle. Scola added 12 points and 10 boards.
Johnson led the Hawks with 22 points and Bibby netted 15. Horford had 14 points and eight rebounds while Josh Smith added 13, 11 and five blocks.
"We should have closed them out in the fourth quarter, and we didn't get the job done," Johnson said. "When Yao came back, we couldn't answer. Then, the game turned really ugly."
HOUSTON 92 FINAL
Dec 9 10:49 PM
HOUSTON 60 END, 3RD QTR
Dec 9 10:15 PM
HOUSTON 46 HALFTIME
Dec 9 9:33 PM
HOUSTON 27 END, 1ST QTR
Dec 9 9:04 PM
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