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Yao shoots only 4-for-15

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Erick Dampier wasn't about to be pushed
around by Yao Ming -- even if the 7-foot-6 Chinese center has a
7-inch height advantage and outweighs Dampier by 45 pounds.

Dampier held Yao in check, and rookie Mickael Pietrus scored a
career-high 20 points and had another stellar defensive game in the
Golden State Warriors' third straight win, 90-84 over Houston on
Friday night.

"When players are coming at me, I feel I've got to go back at
them, especially him," Dampier said. "We just came out to be
physical with him from the start of the game. We met him at the
free-throw line and showed him it wasn't going to be easy for him.
What you get, you have to work for."

Troy Murphy added 16 points -- eight straight during one stretch
in the second quarter -- to help the Warriors end a 15-game home
losing streak against the Rockets. Murphy, coming back from foot
and ankle injuries, was taken to the locker room with 1:09 left as
a precautionary measure with a mild left ankle sprain.

Cuttino Mobley led Houston with 25 points, and Yao had 10 points
and nine rebounds -- shooting just 4-for-15 after getting 29 points,
19 rebounds and six blocks in a loss to Phoenix on Monday night.

Golden State has won three in a row following its season-long
nine-game losing streak, and won this one before a sellout crowd of
19,596.

Pietrus drew a tough defensive assignment for the third time
this week, and shut down Steve Francis until he made two 3-pointers
and a lay-in during the final 30 seconds to finish with 19 points
and eight rebounds. Francis shot 6-for-16, and was 1-of-11 last
time against Golden State.

"They didn't play very good defense on me," Francis said.
"They fouled me for 48 minutes, so if you call that defense."

Pietrus had a career-best three 3-pointers, hitting a decisive 3
with 5:45 left. Earlier this week, he flustered San Antonio's Tony
Parker and held Orlando's Tracy McGrady, the NBA's leading scorer,
to 18 points.

"The NBA is not a soft game. It's a hard game," Pietrus said.
"I put my heart on the team."

The Rockets, seventh in the Western Conference, have dropped
their last two games after winning five straight. Houston beat
Golden State in two earlier meetings this season and the teams play
once more next month.

Yao started the game 1-for-5 and sat for much of the first half.
Dampier, who's 6-11, and 6-10 Adonal Foyle both spent time
defending Yao and effectively kept him out of the paint for most of
the first half.

"Dampier was getting much deeper post position than Yao got,"
Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "So certainly that was huge.
But it's not just on him. Our whole post game was not where we
needed it to be."

The Rockets ended the third quarter with a 13-4 run, including
seven points by Mobley, to take a 54-53 lead heading into the final
period. But they couldn't hold it.

Charles Oakley got in the game for the final 1:59 a day after
the 40-year-old power forward signed a 10-day contract with the
Rockets. The 6-foot-9, 245-pound Oakley just wants to contribute
down the stretch.

"I'm trying to fit in and help us get to the playoffs," he
said. "This late in the season, I'm trying to play consistently."

Golden State clinched a winning record at home for the second
straight season -- the first time the Warriors have had back-to-back
winning home seasons since 1990-91 and 1991-92.

The Warriors have won three straight only two other times this
season -- most recently from Jan. 24-30 when they beat Portland,
Minnesota and Chicago.

Both teams came out cold on offense, with the Warriors shooting
6-of-17 (35.3 percent) in the first quarter to 8-for-23 (34.8) by
the Rockets. Golden State led 41-37 at halftime.

"We are one of the most underrated defensive teams in the
league right now," Warriors coach Eric Musselman said.

Game notes
It was the Warriors' fifth sellout of the season. ... The
Warriors issued about 20 credentials to Asian media because of Yao.
... Yao said before the game the Rockets need to cut down on their
miscues. The Rockets had 27 turnovers against Phoenix and 22
Friday. "Turnovers are a big problem for our team," he said. "If
we don't improve, it's going to cause a lot of problems in the
playoffs." ... Injured Warriors point guard Nick Van Exel (chronic
left knee inflammation) will remain in Houston for several weeks to
work with his personal doctor. ... The Rockets are 3-14 against the
West on the road.