Rice made seven 3-pointers and scored 23 points, Cuttino Mobley
scored 22 and Yao Ming outdueled Phoenix's Amare Stoudemire, his
primary competition for Rookie of the Year, and Houston beat the
Suns 107-89 Wednesday night.
"This was a big win considering the devastation of last
night,'' coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "We were heartbroken on
that, and we talked about not feeling like victims and how you've
got to move on. I can't tell you how proud I am of these guys.''
Eddie Griffin contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds, helping the
Rockets to a 57-32 rebounding advantage, and the bench contributed
The Rockets' reserves outscored Phoenix 21-18 in the second
quarter, when Houston went from a 22-18 deficit to a 50-40 halftime
Rice, who played his second game after missing four weeks with a
shoulder injury, tied his season high for points. Maurice Taylor
added 13 points and Moochie Norris 11 as the Rockets snapped a
"It's a sense of urgency, man,'' Mobley said. "We always play
good when our backs are against the wall. Moochie, Mo Taylor, the
bench came in and carried us.''
Yao, denied a rematch with Shaquille O'Neal the night before in
Los Angeles, had 12 points and 12 rebounds in his second game
against Stoudemire, the only rookie to make the jump from high
school this season.
Stoudemire is a power forward, so it wasn't a center-on-center
matchup like the one anticipated Tuesday night until O'Neal sat
out. But it drew interest as a test of first-year impact players.
"His body seems like he's 28 years old, not 20,'' Yao said.
Stoudemire had 24 points and 13 rebounds to Yao's 11 and seven
on Jan. 15 in Houston, but Stoudemire managed just 11 points and
three rebounds this time.
Rice, activated Tuesday after being on the injured list since
Jan. 13 with a torn labrum in his left shoulder, was 7-of-8 on
3-pointers, making his first six.
He laughed when asked if he was surprised at his accuracy, but
admitted that he didn't understand why he was open.
"That surprised me a lot. If you do that, I'll take it,'' Rice
His fifth 3-pointer sent Houston to an 88-62 lead with 9:22 left
in the game.
Marion responded with three 3-pointers in 1:26, eventually
cutting the Suns' deficit to 91-74 with 7:01 to play, but Phoenix
couldn't sustain the threat.
Houston outscored the Suns 58-33 through the second quarter and
most of the third after falling behind 20-12 in the first.
Griffin sent the Rockets to a 70-53 lead when he stole the ball
as Stoudemire was coming down with a defensive rebound and laid it
in with 2:57 left in the third period.
"It was just one of those nights,'' Stoudemire said. "I mean,
they got a lot of long rebounds. They've got perimeter guys that
can jump pretty high. They had, I think, 22 offensive boards. That
Norris made three jumpers before his layup capped a 14-5 run
that gave Houston a 26-25 lead, its first of the game, with 8:59
left in the second quarter.
Then Rice, who didn't get in until the final 42 seconds of the
first quarter, found his range. He popped three 3-pointers in a
Steve Francis' 3-pointer at the buzzer opened the 10-point
"Very disappointing,'' Suns coach Frank Johnson said. "It
looked as though we were the ones that got in at 3 in the morning
from a game last night.''
Rice, the fourth-best long-range sniper in NBA history, has
1,504 3-pointers in 3,749 tries. ... Francis had five points before
leaving the game after his lower back tightened up. ... Suns F Tom
Gugliotta (broken foot), out since the 10th game, began practicing
this week and will be activated from the injured list Friday at
Toronto. ... Houston is 17-17 vs. the Western Conference; the Suns
are 16-16. ... In eight previous games between the teams, the
biggest margin of victory was seven points.
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