Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 12/1

Game 1: Sunday, December 1st
Game 2: Tuesday, December 10th
Game 3: Sunday, February 2nd
Game 4: Sunday, March 23rd

Kings 89

(33-16, 15-12 away)

Rockets 105


    Coverage: FSBAY

    3:00 PM ET, February 2, 2003

    1 2 3 4 T
    SAC 12 20 34 2389
    HOU 32 27 29 17105

    Top Performers

    Sacramento: P. Stojakovic 31 Pts, 6 Reb, 1 Ast

    Houston: Y. Ming 18 Pts, 11 Reb, 6 Ast, 4 Blk

    Stojakovic scores game-high 31 points in loss

    HOUSTON (AP) -- The Sacramento Kings found out just how far Yao Ming has come since the beginning of the season.

    Yao Ming

    Yao had 18 points, 11 rebounds, four blocked shots and a season-high six assists as the Houston Rockets beat the Kings 105-89 Sunday.

    "Every time I play him, he continues to get better and better,'' Sacramento's Vlade Divac said. "He's definitely going to be a great player in this league. I really like the way he thinks on the court. He plays very unselfishly and understands the concept of the game.''

    In early December, Sacramento and Houston split two games in which Yao had a combined 25 points and 20 rebounds. He was much improved this time, as he notched his team-leading 15th double-double.

    "We passed the ball a lot today so there were a lot of open shots,'' Yao said.

    Eddie Griffin led the Rockets with 22 points while Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley scored 21 each.

    "I was doing a lot of cutting and Yao found me a lot of times,'' Mobley said. "That's what he's supposed to do. We try to work it inside first and then he works it back out. It's a lot easier for us if we work it inside first.''

    Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich agreed.

    "Yao was tremendous inside moving the ball around and scoring,'' Tomjanovich said. "On offense, he puts their defense in a very vulnerable position. If you turn your head, we've got guys cutting and you don't know who to help. He's got a great feel for open people.''

    Sacramento coach Rick Adelman was unhappy with his team's effort coming off a 124-113 loss to the Lakers on Friday.

    "They were aggressive and took it to us and we were the opposite,'' Adelman said. "They played the game with more energy and took advantage of it. They were very good and we were very bad.''

    Peja Stojakovic led the Kings with 31 points.

    Houston took an early 13-2 lead as the Kings missed eight of their first nine shots from the field.

    Yao, Griffin and Francis sparked a 12-3 run late in the period as the Rockets expanded their lead to 29-9 with 2:47 left in the quarter. Houston had a 32-12 lead at the end of the period as Griffin had 11 and Yao 8.

    Houston shot 65 percent (15-of-23) in the first while Sacramento hit only 22 percent (5-of-23) in the quarter and just 29 percent (12-of-42) for the half.

    Houston's biggest lead was 59-32 when Terrence Morris hit a shot with 9 seconds to go before halftime.

    Stojakovic had 19 in the third quarter to help keep the Kings from getting blown out. But Griffin had 11 and Mobley and Yao seven apiece as the Rockets led 88-66 after three.

    Game notes

    Kelvin Cato did not dress because of sore hips he injured against Minnesota Friday. He's expected back Tuesday when the Rockets are at Minnesota. ... The Kings are now 5-3 without Chris Webber, who's out at least three weeks with a sprained left ankle. ... The 12 points the Kings scored in the first quarter tied a season-low by a Houston opponent (set by Denver Jan. 11). ... Houston tied a season-high with 13 blocks and is now 19-1 when blocking eight or more shots.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 89 105
    FGM-FGA 34-83 (.410) 44-86 (.512)
    3PM-3PA 3-13 (.231) 6-19 (.316)
    FTM-FTA 18-24 (.750) 11-15 (.733)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-41 10-45
    Assists 23 24
    Turnovers 18 17
    Steals 13 6
    Blocks 2 13
    Fast Break Points 8 7
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 21 (0/0) 19 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Peja Stojakovic Stojakovic
    Points: 31
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    Yao Ming Ming
    Points: 18
    Reb: 11
    Ast: 6
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 4