SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Now that Houston has surrounded Tracy
McGrady and Yao Ming with talented perimeter shooters, the Rockets
have become an offensive juggernaut.
McGrady led the Rockets with 22 points and Yao added 17 as
Houston ended an 11-game losing streak in Sacramento. The Rockets
hadn't won in Arco Arena since a 107-93 victory on March 28, 1999.
"We put some points up on the board because we're doing a great
job of sharing the ball," McGrady said. "We've got guys who can
flat out shoot the ball. When those guys are shooting, it opens it
up a lot for Yao."
After starting the season 12-14, the Rockets have made three key
acquisitions, trading for Jon Barry, Wesley, and James. Houston is
25-11 since getting Barry on Dec. 23 from Atlanta.
"When Mike, Jon and myself are out there, you've got to pick
your poison," McGrady said. "Who are you going to come off? All
three of us can shoot. Mike is doing a fabulous job of getting his
points within the offense."
Houston's last four wins have come against four of the best five
teams in the Western Conference -- Dallas, Seattle, Phoenix and
Sacramento. The Rockets, who trail the Kings by one game for fifth
in the conference, will try to complete a perfect four-game road
trip with a win Monday night against last-place Golden State.
Sacramento missed the inside presence of Brad Miller, who was
placed on the injured list before the game after breaking his left
leg Saturday in a light shooting drill. Miller is expected to be
sidelined for at least a month.
Houston got great shooting from its guards, as Wesley, James and
Barry combined to make 20 of 26 from the field. The Rockets shot 53
"We weren't getting to shooters, and they were knocking down
every shot," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "It wasn't like they
were pounding it inside or getting to the basket. We couldn't get
our hands up, we couldn't get to guys, and they made us pay."
The Kings, who trailed by 18 in the second quarter, cut the
deficit to five points with a 12-2 run in the third quarter
featuring a pair of 3-pointers by Mobley. But Houston scored the
next seven points, capped by a swooping finger roll from McGrady to
go back up by 12.
Sacramento got it back down to six on a dunk by Brian Skinner
with 3:45 to go and had a chance to get it even closer but Skinner
knocked a rebound out of bounds.
Houston took advantage, getting two free throws from Yao and a
jumper by McGrady to make it 105-95. After Bibby made one of two at
the line, James hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to make
it 108-96 with 1:59 to go.
"I like the fact that we haven't given our big leads all
away," Wesley said. "It's really important for us when teams make
runs like they did tonight not to panic and to go out there and get
baskets while we're getting stops."
The Rockets took the lead for good with a 13-2 run starting late
in the first quarter. The spurt was capped by consecutive baskets
by Juwan Howard to open the second quarter, giving Houston a 34-24
James scored five straight points to end a 10-1 run late in the
second quarter that extended the Rockets' lead to 59-42. Houston,
which shot 57 percent in the first half, led 66-52 at the break,
its third straight half with at least 60.
"They were hot and we didn't close out enough," Mobley said.
"We didn't rotate good enough in the first half and they had the
confidence, so the second half was more of a coast for them."
Ron Garretson called two technicals -- one on Yao and the
other on Adelman. Van Gundy was livid at the first-quarter call on
Yao, who put his arm on Garretson while arguing a foul. "That was
a joke," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "I heard a lot of
people cursing at the refs and that was fine. Yao touched him, and
that's a technical foul?" ... The Kings activated forward Erik
Daniels to take Miller's place. ... Philadelphia Eagles receiver
Terrell Owens was in attendance and threw an autographed football
into the stands during a first-half break.
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