Washington at Houston

In first game without Yao, Rockets storm past Wiz for 13th win in row

CBSSports.com wire reports
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HOUSTON -- Maybe the Houston Rockets will be OK without Yao Ming.

In their first game minus Yao, Luther Head had 18 points to lead the Rockets to a 94-69 win over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night for their 13th straight victory.

Yao is out for the season with a stress fracture in his left foot. The Rockets didn't seem to miss their All-Star center, jumping to a 7-0 lead and never trailing as they coasted to their 17th win in the last 18 games. The streak is their longest since their championship season of 1993-94, and the longest active streak in the NBA.

"Not having Yao, everybody had to step up a little bit and we all did," Head said. "Everybody contributed and everybody scored. We did it as a team."

Houston started 41-year-old Dikembe Mutombo in place of Yao, but also used the 6-foot-9 Carl Landry in the spot. Yao was averaging 22 points and 10.8 rebounds this season. Landry finished with 12 points.

"I believe I set the tempo early and everybody just followed," Mutombo said.

The Wizards were doomed by a first half in which they managed a franchise-low 23 points and couldn't dig themselves out of a 28-point halftime deficit. Their 69 points were a season-low and they made just 26 of 83 shots.

"The first half was about as good defensively as we could play," said coach Rick Adelman. "You really got to give Dikembe credit for stepping in."

Tracy McGrady was ineffective for the first three quarters, going 2-of-11 with six points. He helped the Rockets stretch their lead when he had two slam dunks early in the fourth quarter to make 73-51 and finished with 11 points.

McGrady said Yao's injury was a "devastating blow," but that they can't use it as an excuse.

"If we continue to play defense and believe, then we really control it ourselves," he said. "Everybody is really counting us out, which is cool, but we just have to keep believing."

With one star out and another struggling, the Rockets got double-digit contributions from several others, including Luis Scola, who was 7-of-7 for 14 points. Rafer Alston finished with 13 points.

The Wizards snapped out of their shooting slump for a while in the third quarter and had doubled their first-half points total of 23 with a hook shot by Brendan Haywood with about 3½ minutes left in the quarter. Antawn Jamison had 12 points in the quarter and Oleksiy Pecherov added a pair of 3-pointers.

Washington trailed 68-49 at the end of the third quarter.

Jamison led the Wizards with 18 points and Nick Young had 16.

"This is a veteran team with a lot of pride and they showed us why they have been one of the best teams in the league this month," Jamison said. "We had some opportunities, but didn't capitalize. In the first half our shots weren't close and we were complaining about calls too much."

Houston was ahead by 19 in the second quarter before scoring 12 straight points to push its lead to 49-18 about one minute before halftime. The Rockets led 51-23 at halftime, a Houston record for fewest points allowed in a half. The Wizards' 21.3 percent shooting in the first half was a season low for a Houston opponent this season.

Washington's previous franchise low in a half was 25 points, reached three times, the last in 1985 against the Knicks.

The Wizards were often harassed into taking bad shots as the shot clock ran down. Washington also missed several would-be dunks and layups in the first half.

"Our defense in the first half was unbelievable," McGrady said. "I've never witnessed anything like that."

Houston scored the first seven points of the game and had built a 24-12 lead by the end of the first quarter thanks to 10 points by Scola on 5-of-5 shooting. The Wizards were 5-of-27 in the period.

Notes

  • Mutombo, who had two blocks in the first quarter, got a technical when he did his signature finger waves for a bit too long after one of the blocks. He finished with four points, six rebounds and four blocks.
  • Washington F Caron Butler missed his 10th game in a row with a strained left hip flexor and didn't make the trip.
  • Gerald Green played for Houston for the first time since being traded from New Orleans on Thursday. He was 3-for-3 for six points in four minutes.
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With Yao Ming no longer available, Tracy McGrady must carry the load for Houston.  (Getty Images)
With Yao Ming no longer available, Tracy McGrady must carry the load for Houston. (Getty Images)

Scoreboard
Washington (27-30) 1211262069
Houston (37-20) «2427172694
WAS:A. Jamison 18 Pts
WAS:A. Jamison 9 Reb
WAS:A. Daniels 6 Ast
HOU:L. Head 18 Pts
HOU:S. Battier 9 Reb
HOU:B. Jackson 7 Ast
Players of the Game
HoustonWashington

L. Head

A. Jamison
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
18541892
Washington
B. Haywood, C333-91-29127
A. Jamison, PF308-150-092118
D. Stevenson, SG292-121-31205
A. Blatche, SF282-132-32016
A. Daniels, PG252-50-13604
N. Young, SG266-114-550116
R. Mason, SG220-42-50002
O. Pecherov, C193-83-450211
D. McGuire, PF160-20-03020
D. Songaila, PF120-40-00000
E. Thomas, CDid Not Play
G. Arenas, PGDid Not Play
C. Butler, SFDid Not Play
Totals 26-8313-233711969
 31.3%56.5% 
Houston
T. McGrady, SG354-152-462211
S. Battier, SF333-72-29419
R. Alston, PG286-110-055213
D. Mutombo, C232-40-06004
L. Scola, PF237-70-021314
L. Head, PG267-161-254218
C. Landry, PF215-62-481312
B. Jackson, PG200-70-04720
C. Hayes, PF152-20-06114
S. Novak, SF71-20-02013
A. Brooks, PG50-30-00010
G. Green, SG43-30-02026
S. Francis, PGDid Not Play
Y. Ming, CDid Not Play
B. Jones, SFDid Not Play
Totals 40-837-1255252094
 48.2%58.3% 
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Mia 107
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NJ 92
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Utah 100 Final
Min 111
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LAL 96