Yao Ming had 28 points and 14 rebounds, and the Houston Rockets won their 11th straight game, 100-80 over the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night.
Houston Rockets Yao Ming left, and Dikembe Mutombo talk off the court in the second half of their NBA basketball game with the New Orleans Hornets in New Orleans on Friday, Feb. 22, 2008. The Rockets won 100-80.
Tracy McGrady scored 34 points on an array of perimeter jumpers, driving layups through crowds and soaring dunks, helping Houston build an early double-digit lead it maintained throughout the second half in snapping New Orleans' five-game winning streak.
Houston improved to 2-0 since trading Bonzi Wells and Mike James to the New Orleans Hornets shortly before Thursday afternoon's trading deadline. And reserve guard Bobby Jackson, the primary player the Rockets received in the deal, hasn't even suited up yet.
This was the Hornets' first game since the trade. Wells and James were unable to play for New Orleans and sat on the bench in street clothes, watching their old team run their new one out of the building. Jackson was still in Houston for his physical. The trade would not be official until that was complete.
Although New Orleans has a 7-footer of its own in Tyson Chandler, the matchup against the 7-6 Yao did not go well for the Hornets' center.
Yao scored on seemingly effortless jump hooks and short turnaround jumpers. Other times, he rotated into the paint to steal rebounds from Hornets forwards and casually lay the ball back in like an adolescent might toy with younger, shorter brothers in a driveway.
Chandler, who came in averaging 12 points and 12.4 rebounds, finished with nine points and five rebounds against the Rockets.
David West led New Orleans with 20 points, but struggled to find his touch on mid-range jumpers and finished 7-of-17 from the field. Chris Paul had 14 points and 11 assists.
Rafer Alston had 11 assists and added nine points for the Rockets, who led by as much as 27 points, outshot New Orleans 49% to 40% and outrebounded the Hornets 55-38.
Houston made the first decisive move in the game in the second quarter, using a 14-1 run to take a 45-29 lead on McGrady's turnaround jumper.
The run lasted seven minutes, when the Hornets' only point came on Melvin Ely's free throw.
The Hornets simply had an off night, narrowly missing a slew of shots they would normally make from inside and from the perimeter. New Orleans shot 16% (3-of-18) in the second quarter and 33% for the half.
(Agencies via China Daily February 23, 2008)