Final

Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 1/5

Game 1: Saturday, January 5th
Knicks91Final
Rockets103
Game 2: Wednesday, January 9th
Rockets101Final
Knicks92

Knicks 91

(8-24, 1-13 away)

Rockets 103

(17-17, 8-6 home)

    Coverage: MSG

    7:30 PM ET, January 5, 2008

    Toyota Center, Houston, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    NY 13 29 27 2291
    HOU 27 28 24 24103

    Top Performers

    New York: N. Robinson 25 Pts, 3 Ast, 1 Stl

    Houston: Y. Ming 30 Pts, 8 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Stl, 4 Blk

    T-Mac sits again, but Yao easily manhandles Knicks' frontline

    HOUSTON (AP) -- Aaron Brooks grew up about a mile from Nate Robinson in Seattle and the two diminutive guards were college rivals, when Brooks played for Oregon and Robinson played at Washington.

    Both shined in their first professional matchup on Saturday night and Brooks' team claimed the victory.

    Brooks scored a career-high 22 points, Yao Ming added 30 and the Houston Rockets beat the New York Knicks 103-91, their fourth win in six games without Tracy McGrady.

    Robinson matched a season high with 25 points for the Knicks, who've dropped seven games in a row and 13 of 14 on the road this season.

    "We're competitive. We've always been competitive," said Brooks, the 26th overall pick in last year's draft. "I hit the first shot and I just got comfortable."

    Robinson went 9-for-13 from the field and had three assists before fouling out.

    "I play against Aaron all the time," Robinson said. "I've always known he can play the game. It's fun watching his career grow."

    McGrady has been out since Dec. 23 because of strained tendons, tendinitis and a bone bruise in his left knee. Before Saturday's game, team doctor Tom Clanton said McGrady would probably miss another week and be re-evaluated before the team's next homestand, which begins on Jan. 11.

    Brooks looked like a dependable alternative, hitting four 3-pointers and going 8-for-10 from the field.

    "He's an amazing player," said Yao. "Everybody knows he has speed, good skill and very strong confidence. Everybody knew one day, he would play like [he did] tonight. We didn't know which day. But one day."

    Yao also had eight rebounds and six assists, outplaying Knicks center Eddy Curry. The 6-foot-11 Curry had 16 points and six rebounds.

    "He is so big and extremely long that you have to make your best move on him or he will block your shot," Curry said. "He is a tough guy to guard out there."

    The Rockets led 55-42 at halftime and Curry came out aggressively after the break, scoring twice inside and getting to the line for two free throws. But Curry went to the bench later in the quarter and Yao took advantage, scoring four straight baskets as Houston stretched the lead to 73-56.

    Robinson hit two free throws and another 3-pointer as the Knicks closed the gap to 10 heading to the fourth quarter. David Lee dunked and split two free throws to pull New York to 79-72.

    Yao scored again and Brooks corralled a loose ball and drove for a layup to push the lead back into double-digits. Brooks scored on two quick drives to the basket later in the final quarter to preserve the Rockets' comfortable lead.

    "I'm learning," Brooks said. "I'm not where I want to be, but I'm far from where I was at."

    Zach Randolph scored 18 points and grabbed a career-high 22 rebounds for the Knicks.

    The Rockets got a valuable cameo appearance from Dikembe Mutombo, who came in after Yao picked up his second foul with 5:15 left in the first quarter. The 41-year-old Mutombo, who had played only 93 minutes all season before Saturday, promptly blocked two shots that triggered two Houston fast breaks.

    With Mutombo in, the Rockets finished the opening quarter with a 14-4 run. Houston led 31-17 when Yao returned with 10:07 left in the first half. The Knicks missed 12 of their first 20 shots and had seven turnovers in the first 14 minutes.

    The Rockets also shredded New York's defense early, with Yao passing out of double-teams to wide-open teammates. Midway through the second quarter, Houston was shooting 61 percent (17 of 28) with 10 assists and led 43-23. It was the 13th time in 27 games the Knicks have trailed by 20 points or more.

    Jamal Crawford started for New York after spraining his left shoulder in the third quarter of Friday's 97-93 loss to San Antonio. Crawford scored nine points in 41 minutes of action.

    Game notes


    Knicks F Quentin Richardson bruised his left thigh in the first half and did not return. ... Randolph has 16 double-doubles this season. ... Rockets G Steve Francis, who played for the Knicks last season, sat out for the 10th straight game. He caught the flu in late December and now has quadriceps tendinitis in both legs. Francis greeted Knicks coach Isiah Thomas before the game. ... Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett, who suffered a life-threatening spinal injury in a Sept. 9 game, had a courtside seat. Everett grew up in Port Arthur, Texas, about 90 miles from Houston.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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    Team Stat Comparison

     
    NY
    HOU
    Points 91 103
    FGM-FGA 35-78 (.449) 41-77 (.532)
    3PM-3PA 7-15 (.467) 8-24 (.333)
    FTM-FTA 14-20 (.700) 13-16 (.813)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-25 8-15
    Assists 17 20
    Turnovers 19 14
    Steals 6 10
    Blocks 1 8
    Fast Break Points 6 12
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 17 (0/0) 14 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 2 20

    Top Performers

    New York
    Houston
    Nate Robinson Robinson
    Points: 25
    Reb: 0
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Yao Ming Ming
    Points: 30
    Reb: 8
    Ast: 6
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 4