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Yao fires up Rockets in win over Grizzlies
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Yao Ming scored 24 points and pulled down 17 rebounds to spark the home-loving Houston Rockets to a 93-83 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday.

"Our defense was a lot better today and when you play at home, you always feel stronger," Yao told reporters after Houston recorded a 12th consecutive victory at the Toyota Center.

"The crowd gives you a lot of energy and that helps with your success."

Yao also had three of nine blocked for the Rockets (41-23), the Western Conference's third-ranked team.

"We just wanted to send a message both to our opponent and also to ourselves that we need to play strong," Yao added after his 30th double-double of the season.

"We cannot play like we played the last two times against them in their house," Yao said of the Rockets, who lost in Memphis on Dec 8 and Feb 4. "We wanted to set a tone for the game."

The giant Chinese center had 11 points in the first quarter when Houston opened up a 28-19 lead. The margin stretched to 18 late in the second and the Rockets were on cruise control for the remainder of the game.

Luis Scola added 18 points and 14 rebounds for Houston.

"Yao and Luis really controlled the boards for us," Rockets coach Rick Adelman said, adding the previous defeat to Memphis had spurred his team on.

"We talked about that a lot and we knew we needed to be focused," he told reporters. "That's one of the things that we really took care of tonight."

Rudy Gay scored 21 points for an out-of-sorts Memphis (16-46), who have won only once in 11 games.

"You have to give them a lot of respect because they force you out of your rhythm," Gay said. "Yao makes it real tough inside."

(Agencies via China Daily March 10, 2009)

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