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New Orleans loses seventh straight

HOUSTON (AP) -- Credit for the Houston Rockets' latest victory
goes to none other than Andre Barrett, a little-known point guard
signed to fill in for the injured Charlie Ward and Tyronn Lue.

Barrett scored 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter, and
Yao Ming had 21 points and nine rebounds to lead the Rockets to an
89-81 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday night.

New Orleans got within one point, 54-53 late in the third
quarter, before Barrett steadied the Rockets down the stretch. The
undrafted rookie who spent training camp with the New York Knicks
played a season-high 28 minutes.

"They were doubling Yao and Tracy (McGrady) and we are
struggling to shoot well right now," coach Jeff Van Gundy said.
"Barrett stepped up and made some big shots. If you play on a team
with those guys, you're going to have some shots and the ones he
made tonight were huge.

"We were stuck in the mud. We had a problem down the stretch."

His teammates were impressed with Barrett's 5-of-7 shooting.

"To have confidence the way he has to take shots and knock them
down is great," McGrady said. "A lot of guys just coming into the
league shy away from those kind of shots at the end of the game.
But he didn't and he was knocking them down."

It was no big deal to Barrett.

"We have to be confident we're going to make those shots," he
said. "This is a crazy game. When I started out, I was on the
injured reserve list and I'm pretty sure nobody knew anything about
me.

"I went to Seton Hall and that was it. Nobody knew I was going
to come out here confident."

McGrady had his second straight poor shooting night, shooting
just 7-of-19 -- including 1-of-8 from 3-point range -- to finish with
18 points. He shot just 7-of-23 Saturday against the 76ers but
scored the winning basket with 25 seconds to play.

The hapless Hornets, with only one victory this season, have
lost seven straight. Their 16 first-quarter points were a
season-low for a Rockets opponent, and their 30 first-half points
tied an opponent's season low.

Coach Byron Scott was unhappy with the first-half performance.

"I was pretty visibly upset at halftime," Scott said. "I just
didn't think we played hard the first half and I let them know it.

"You saw the results. We probably played our best half in the
second half. That's the way we have to play. We're undermanned and
if you come out with 70 percent effort, you won't get much done."

The losing is starting to affect the players.

"I think some of us are pressing a little bit too hard," said
David Wesley, who led the Hornets with 18 points. "It's all
because we want to win. But sometimes it's better to relax and just
let the offense work for you and you'll get good shots."

Jim Jackson missed his second straight game, this time with back
spasms, and Ryan Bowen again replaced him in the starting lineup.
Jackson, who averages 13.9 points, missed Saturday's game against
the 76ers with flu-like symptoms.

The Rockets had a pair of eight-point runs in the first quarter
to lead by as many as 11 points. They settled for a 22-16 lead
after one as Juwan Howard had eight points.

The Hornets fell behind by 11 again early in the second quarter
before going on a 9-0 run to close to 31-29. Scott Padgett hit two
3s the final minute to cap a 12-0 run for a 43-30 lead at the half.
Yao led with 10 points at the break.

Lee Nailon's eight points in the third quarter helped New
Orleans pull within one, 54-53 with 1:41 to play. McGrady's
3-pointer helped Houston lead 59-53 after three.

The Hornets never got closer than five points in the fourth
quarter.

Game notes
New Orleans is 1-7 on the road ... David West sat out the
game with a sprained right knee suffered against Detroit on
Saturday. He is day-to-day ... George Lynch went over the
5,000-point plateau for his career with two points. He now has
5,001 ... The Hornets wore their Mardi Gras gold uniforms for the
fourth time this season. They are 0-4 in them ... Houston is 7-1
when it outrebounds opponents as it did Tuesday, 54-43.