Hot Rockets ground Hawks for sixth straight win
( dpa ) - It's lift-off for the Houston Rockets.
Chinese superstar Yao Ming had 28 points with nine rebounds and the surging Rockets hammered the Atlanta Hawks 108-89 on Saturday night for their 10th win in 11 games.
Since January 3, the Rockets and Utah Jazz are the hottest teams in the NBA with 15-3 records.
"We are playing extremely well right now, and we didn't want to take them lightly," said Rockets shooting guard Tracy McGrady, after a 15-point, eight-assist effort. "We came out focused and ready to play."
Argentine rookie forward Luis Scola contributed 14 points and nine rebounds for the Rockets (30-20) whose six-game winning streak is the club's longest since closing the 2004-05 season on a seven-game run.
Josh Childress scored 18 points, Zaza Pachulia had 11 with nine rebounds for the Hawks (21-26) who shot just 37 per cent (32-of-86) from the floor to drop their ninth consecutive visit to Houston since February 25, 1999.
"We can't make any excuses. We just didn't show up and should have stayed at the hotel," Hawks head coach Mike Woodson said. " Houston is a very good team and they came to play. Our energy level to start the game was non-existent."
The Rockets took care of business from beginning to end, racing out to a 16-point advantage en route to a 31-21 lead after one. They blew open the game by holding the cold-shooting Hawks to 10 points in the second period for a commanding 56-31 halftime cushion.
"We were up by 10 points and we still kept pushing in the second quarter," said Yao, who had 14 first-half points. "They only had 10 points and that's how we want to defend."
Houston continued to dominate in the second half as the gap widened to 88-55 entering the final frame. After hitting his final jumper in the opening minute, Yao took a seat on the bench with 10:24 left to play.
Elsewhere: Utah Jazz 97, Chicago Bulls 87 Carlos Boozer collected 22 points with 12 rebounds and the Jazz beat the injury-depleted Bulls for their 12th consecutive home-court victory.
Deron Williams had 15 points and 11 assists for Northwest Division-leading Utah (33-19), which had its 10-game winning streak snapped by Sacramento on Friday night.
Swiss Thabo Sefolosha scored 22 points for the Bulls (20-30) who continued to play without injured starters Ben Gordon, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich.
New Orleans 112, Memphis Grizzlies 99 David West had 33 points with 10 rebounds, Peja Stojakovic scored 26 with six-three-pointers and the hosts Hornets moved into a tie with idle Dallas atop the Southwest Division standings.
All-Star guard Chris Paul had just two points, but handed out 16 assists for New Orleans (34-15) which was without starting centre Tyson Chandler (flu).
Rudy Gay scored 26 points for the Grizzlies (13-37) losers of six straight and eight in a row on the road.
Golden State Warriors 105, Sacramento Kings 102 Monta Ellis scored 16 of his 34 points in the final quarter, Stephen Jackson had 26, and the Warriors held off the visiting Kings for their 10th win in the last 14 games.
Mike Bibby had 24 points and Ron Artest added 21, but missed a game-tying three-pointer at the final buzzer for the Kings (23-26) who lost for just the second time in the last seven games.
Indiana Pacers 101, Portland Trail Blazers 93 Danny Granger scored 29 points, Travis Diener had 15 with nine assists, and the host Pacers beat the short-handed Trail Blazers for the ninth straight time.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 21 points with 11 rebounds for Portland (28-22) which was without All-Star guard Brandon Roy (family death) for the second straight contest.
Philadelphia 76ers 101, LA Clippers 80 Lou Williams scored 18 points off the bench, Andre Miller had 17 with nine assists, and the Sixers rolled to their third straight victory.
Corey Maggette scored 26 points for the Clippers (16-32) losers of 11 of their last 13 road games.
New York Knicks 99, Milwaukee Bucks 98 Jamal Crawford scored 30 points, Malik Rose hit two big baskets down the stretch, and the visiting Knicks overcame a 17-point third-quarter deficit to snap a season-high eight-game losing streak.
Rose's follow shot with 2:35 remaining put the Knicks on top 97-96 lead before the reserve forward drilled a 19-foot jumper, making it a three-point game with 1:50 left.
Charlie Bell's steal and lay-up drew the Bucks to within 99-98 with 31 seconds remaining. When Crawford missed a runner with seven seconds left, the Bucks had a final shot at the win.
Following a timeout, Bell drove to the basket and passed to Michael Ruffin, but his shot in the lane missed badly, and the Knicks had their first win since January 25.
Charlie Villanueva had 21 points and 13 rebounds while Michael Redd also added 21 as the Bucks (19-32) fell for the fifth time in the past six games.