Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 1/8

Game 1: Thursday, January 8th
Game 2: Wednesday, January 21st

Knicks 71

(19-25, 7-14 away)

Rockets 86


    Coverage: MSG

    8:00 PM ET, January 21, 2004

    Toyota Center, Houston, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    NY 26 9 22 1471
    HOU 16 31 23 1686

    Top Performers

    NY: S. Marbury 8 Pts, 3 Reb, 10 Ast, 3 Stl

    Hou: Y. Ming 29 Pts, 10 Reb, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Yao's 12-for-15 night from field stumps N.Y.

    HOUSTON (AP) -- This time, the Houston Rockets made their run in the second quarter.

    Yao Ming had a season-high 29 points and 10 rebounds to help the Rockets beat New York 86-71 on Wednesday night, handing Lenny Wilkens his first loss as coach of the Knicks.

    Wilkens won his first three games after replacing Don Chaney on Jan. 15, and the Knicks had won four straight overall.

    The game was similar to Jan. 8, when the Rockets humbled the Knicks 111-79 in Madison Square Garden, jumping out to a 23-2 lead in the first quarter. Houston didn't heat up until getting behind this time.

    "Yao was obviously the dominant force," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "When he makes his jump shot, he's really hard to guard. They played two types of defenders on him . I thought he did a good job playing to his strength against each guy."

    The Knicks got the early jump, bursting to a 20-8 lead. Houston hit only four of its first 18 shots and was 5-for-19 in the opening period, while the Knicks hit 46 percent.

    From that 12-point deficit, the Rockets outscored the Knicks 39-15 to take a 47-35 lead at the half. Maurice Taylor had nine second quarter points and finished with 21.

    The Knicks tried to slow Yao with Dikembe Mutombo and Michael Doleac, but Yao kept shooting. He hit 12 of 15 field goals.

    "We wanted to be aggressive," Wilkens said. "Yeah, shut down the backcourt but Mo Taylor and Yao Ming killed us," Wilkens said. "We had good energy but we got anxious and we never got Allan (Houston) off the mark.

    "I was surprised to see us so anxious."

    The Knicks scored only nine points in the second quarter -- a season low for a Houston opponent -- and didn't get a basket in the period until Mutombo's scored with 5:33 left.

    With Houston down 26-16 at the start of the second quarter, Taylor scored nine points in a four-minute span, including a layup with 8:57 to go that gave Houston its first lead, 27-26.

    "That's what coach asked me to do," Taylor said. When he puts me in the game, early he told me to bring us some energy and get us going a little bit. That's what I try to do."

    Yao returned after sitting out much of the first quarter with two fouls and contributed six points down the stretch to halftime.

    Allan Houston and Penny Hardaway each had 12 points to lead the Knicks, and Keith Van Horn added 11.

    The Rockets were able to slow down the Knicks.

    "We should play a little more uptempo but when you get in a halfcourt game, you really have to execute," Wilkens said. "You have to know your offense so well that you can help get the guys open that you want to have the ball."

    Yao was pleased with the Rockets victory but he was disappointed at not setting a career high point record or playing on the Chinese New Year.

    "I hate games on holidays," Yao said. "It should be a day to rest. I should be at home watching TV and playing video games."

    Game notes

    The Knicks signed center Bruno Sundov to a 10-day contract and placed forward Michael Sweetney on the injured list because of patella tendinitis. ... Knicks guard Moochie Norris returned to Houston for the first time since the Rockets traded him. "It's like playing against your brother," Rockets guard Steve Francis said. ... The Rockets are 10-3 and have won eight in a row when Yao scores 20 or more points.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 71 86
    FGM-FGA 29-73 (.397) 38-78 (.487)
    3PM-3PA 3-10 (.300) 2-14 (.143)
    FTM-FTA 10-15 (.667) 8-13 (.615)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 7-36 7-41
    Assists 22 17
    Turnovers 16 12
    Steals 6 8
    Blocks 2 5
    Fast Break Points 3 2
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 19 (0/0) 16 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    New York
    Stephon Marbury Marbury
    Points: 8
    Reb: 3
    Ast: 10
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 0
    Yao Ming Ming
    Points: 29
    Reb: 10
    Ast: 0
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 1