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Battier shoots Rockets to fourth straight win

Nov 29, 2006 - 4:17 AM HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Shane Battier's stroke came into play down the stretch.

Battier hit all five of his 3-pointers, including one that provided the lead for good, and Yao Ming scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Houston Rockets won their fourth straight game, an 82-75 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Rafer Alston collected 13 points, seven assists, three steals and three blocks for the Rockets, who overcame a season-low eight points by Tracy McGrady and ended a four-game slide against the Wolves at the Toyota Center.

The Rockets entered the final period with a 54-47 lead before Minnesota drew even at 68-68 on a 3-pointer by Troy Hudson with 4:41 left.

"Tonight there wasn't any panic and even the last couple of times, there hasn't been any panic," said Battier of the Rockets' struggles in the fourth quarter. "That is the one good thing about our team is the poise.

"To win big in this league you have to have poise. Unfortunately we've had to have a lot of that early on, but we'll take 10 wins in November no matter how they come."

After an empty possession by each team, Battier drained a 3-pointer from the right corner a minute later for a three-point edge.

"I think Rafer drove the base line and I was just sitting down there," Battier explained. "(Marko) Jaric ran at me pretty hard and I was lucky that I glanced up when I did. I didn't know at first how much time was left on the shot clock, but when I saw it was just one second I tried to get it off. I was thinking I could just hit the rim and we'd get an offensive rebound, but luckily it went in."

Following a pair of free throws by rookie Craig Smith that trimmed the deficit to 71-70 with 3:17 remaining, Battier nailed another 3-pointer from the same spot.

"Shane really hit some big threes for us down the stretch," McGrady said. "He hit one tough shot from the corner where he actually pump-faked and the guy was still on his side and he hit a three. That is what we got him here for. Knocking down those open jumpers. He comes through in the clutch for us when we need him and he did a great job tonight."

With 2:15 to go, Yao found Alston for a shot from the arc, extending the margin to 77-70 and securing the Rockets' fourth consecutive home win.

"I don't know how they got so open in the corner (during their fourth-quarter run)," Minnesota guard Ricky Davis said. "Shane Battier just killed us when we were in the zone and I don't know how he got those shots. We'll have to work on it."

The Rockets survived a frigid 38-percent (30-of-79) shooting mark and McGrady suffering a bruised left abdomen.

"I just wanted to do what I could do to make some plays," McGrady said. "My teammates are there to pick me up and sometimes when I am struggling a little bit, I have to find them.

"They are making a lot of big plays for the team right now. When I am covered, I just try to find them. For me though, right now, I just have to fight through this. It hurts, but I'll be OK."

Kevin Garnett netted 25 points and pulled down 11 boards and rookie Randy Foye had another impressive fourth quarter and finished with 11 points for the Wolves, who shot 46 percent (30-of-65) from the field but committed 20 turnovers.

"Randy Foye is coming up big in the fourth quarter the last few games," Davis said. "Coach (Dwane Casey) is giving him the ball and he is making things happen. He's playing good and he's gotten into a good rhythm."

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