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Yao fires Rockets to 7th win in a row
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The Houston Rockets cruised to a 95-83 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday, Chinese center Yao Ming leading the home team to a seventh consecutive triumph with a game-high 25 points.



Houston Rockets' Yao Ming (center) in action against Portland Trail Blazers' LaMarcus Aldridge in Houston on Monday, February11, 2008. The Rockets won 95-83.


Rafer Alston added 17 points and seven assists for the Rockets, who won for the 11th time in 12 games despite getting off to a sluggish start.


"We didn't start out the game with a sense of urgency," Rockets coach Rick Adelman told reporters.


Alston and Tracy McGrady connected on just two of 10 shots in the first half, which ended with Portland just one point ahead after they failed to build on a 24-18 first quarter.


In other National Basketball Association games, it was: Lakers 106, Bobcats 97; Cavaliers 118, Magic 111; Warriors 120, Wizards 117; 76ers 84, Mavericks 76; Spurs 93, Raptors 88; and Clippers 96, Bucks 89.


In Houston, the Rockets turned things around in the third quarter, using a 13-point performance by Alston to take command.


LaMarcus Aldridge led the Trail Blazers with 22 points as Portland welcomed Brandon Roy back to the line-up after missing two games because of a death in his family. Roy added 15 points and dished out eight assists but Portland was unable to hold off a rampant Rockets side.


Meanwhile, the Lakers have become an even more dangerous team with Pau Gasol. Just ask Kobe Bryant. "Adding Pau to the mix," Bryant insisted, "we have something that has to be dealt with."


The Bobcats were the latest to find that out as Bryant scored 31 points and Gasol 26 in the Lakers' victory in Charlotte.


It wasn't an entirely pretty performance for the Lakers, who improved to 6-2 on their nine-game trip - and 4-1 since acquiring Gasol. They allowed the Bobcats to cut a 13-point deficit to 89-86 midway through the fourth quarter.


Then Bryant went to work. His jumper with 4:30 left made it 96-90. His no-look pass to Lamar Odom for a dunk made it 100-93, and Bryant put the Lakers ahead by 11 with two free throws with 1:07 left.


Bryant had his third straight game of 30 or more points, and Gasol had his second-highest scoring game since joining Los Angeles, hitting nine of 11 shots and eight of 12 free throws despite a cold that had Gasol coughing in the locker room after the game.


"Yesterday, he didn't have a good game," coach Phil Jackson said of Gasol's 12-point performance in a win at Miami on Sunday. "Today was the mark of a good player to come back and double your effort and have a good game. He's not feeling the greatest now either, so that's a good game for him."


Raymond Felton scored 29 points and Nazr Mohammed added 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Bobcats, whose seven-game losing streak matches the longest of their disappointing season.


(Agencies via Shanghai Daily February 13, 2008)

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