for this game

Yao, Rockets smother Cavaliers

Feb 27, 2009 - 5:08 AM HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Yao Ming scored as many points in the third quarter as the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Houston Rockets' 93-74 victory on Thursday.

Yao scored 10 of 28 points in the third as Houston turned a five-point game at halftime into a blowout by outscoring Cleveland, 23-10.

The Cavaliers lost power forward Ben Wallace, who suffered a fractured right fibula after being accidentally kicked by Yao in the second quarter.

Wallace tried to play through the pain but went to the locker room, where the injury was diagnosed during the second half. He returned to the bench on crutches. The Cavaliers believe he will be out from four-to-six weeks.

LeBron James finished with 21 points on 7-of-21 from the field. He had only one rebound and did not record an assist for the first time in his pro career.

"It was just that type of game for him tonight," Ron Artest said. "It was a game where we left him open and he had to take shots. I think he still made the right decisions. I love to play defense. Then, you have a guy like Shane (Battier) that can give you a rest. It was definitely a team effort."

The game was a struggle from the outset - the teams combined for 30 points in the first quarter. Cleveland was off from the field throughout and its problems were increased in the third quarter when James picked up his fourth foul with 8:33 left.

The foul problems kept James from driving to the basket for fear of picking up another foul and Houston, which has won six straight, took advantage of the rest of the Cavaliers' off-nights.

The Rockets turned a five-point lead at halftime into an 18-point advantage after three as they limited Cleveland to their lowest total of the season.

"We just can't seem to get in a good flow against this team," James said. "A lot of credit has to go to them. Their defense keeps you on the perimeter. Defensively, we played really well. Offensively, we couldn't make a shot and we could never get in any rhythm."

Artest hit two long jumpers in a 12-0 run that gave Houston a 68-50 lead late in the third quarter.

The Cavaliers showed some life in the final quarter, going on a 7-0 run to close within 72-61. The Rockets called a timeout and came back with a quick five-point spurt to establish a comfortable margin again.

The Rockets got off to a fast start and held a 45-40 lead at the break behind Yao's 16 points.

James had 13 points but the Cavaliers hit only 14-of-45 shots (31 percent). James was 4-of-13 from the field.

The first quarter saw a total of 30 points as Houston held a 19-11 lead.

Von Wafer had 19 points off the bench for Houston. Artest added 15.

"The Rockets did a heckuva job carrying out their game plan," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "They gave us the jump shot, but we just didn't convert. Houston was physical defensively. (Luis) Scola energized them in the first quarter and Von Wafer was tremendous off the bench. Yao was awesome."