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Yao held to just four points in defeat

1/8/2004

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- It was such a bad night for the
Houston Rockets that Yao Ming was outscored by Darko Milicic.

Milicic scored six points -- more than doubling his season total
-- and Yao had four in Detroit's 85-66 win over the Rockets on
Wednesday night.

"I feel a lot better after getting in and getting a chance to
play," said Milicic, the second pick in the draft, who had scored
five points in 11 games. "Yao is a good player, but maybe this was
not his day."

Richard Hamilton scored 16 points to lead the Pistons to their
seventh straight win -- their longest winning streak in nearly 12
years -- and the longest current streak in the league. Detroit has
won five straight against Western Conference teams.

"We're really starting to play with a swagger," Hamilton said.

In a matchup of two of the NBA's top defensive teams, Houston
had its lowest point total of the season and tied the mark for the
fewest points scored in franchise history. Detroit extended its NBA
record of holding teams under 100 points to 38 straight games.

"This was a lack of intensity," Houston's Steve Francis said.
"A couple guys played hard, but that won't do it. You need eight
or nine guys -- your whole rotation -- to play hard. I don't think
they did anything to take us out of this game. We did that to
ourselves."

Francis and Jim Jackson each scored 15.

The lopsided game was given some life when Milicic came into the
game with 5:54 left, after the crowd had been chanting "Dar-ko!
Dar-ko!" for several minutes. The fans rose to their feet when the
rookie -- with a new blond hairdo -- stepped onto the floor.

Milicic dunked twice and scored on a drop-step layup for his
season-high point total. He also grabbed a season-high three
rebounds, and blocked a shot in six minutes, which tied his longest
stint of the season.

"I don't know where I can play him. He's doing fine," Pistons
coach Larry Brown said. "I'm dying to play him, but I've got Elden
(Campbell), Memo (Okur), Ben (Wallace), Darvin (Ham) and Corliss
(Williamson).

"It'll all shake out because in practice, I can see him getting
better and better every day."

Yao, the first pick in the 2002 draft, scored the first two
baskets of the game, then was held scoreless in a lackluster
22-minute effort. Yao, who was 2-of-5 with five rebounds and four
turnovers, played just five minutes in the second half.

"I played players that I thought deserved to play," Houston
coach Jeff Van Gundy said.

Yao had 22 points and 20 rebounds -- his first 20-20 game -- in
Houston's 86-80 win against Detroit on Dec. 6.

"They changed the way I was able to attack the basket by having
(Mehmet) Okur, then Campbell come hard at me," Yao said through an
interpreter. "I just didn't play well. I got too hesitant."

Detroit's Tayshaun Prince had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Wallace, the reigning NBA player of the week, had nine points, 15
rebounds and three blocks.

The Rockets, who had won three straight, had a chance to be the
first NBA team to hold three straight opponents to less than 70
points, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Game notes
The Pistons last won seven straight March 2-14, 1992. ...
Faces in the crowd included USC running back LenDale White, a
cousin of Pistons guard Chauncey Billups, Michigan football players
Chris Perry and Larry Stevens, and Lions cornerback Dre' Bly.