HOUSTON, Nov. 19 (Ticker) --
Two days after a road victory against last
season's best team, the Houston Rockets avoided a home letdown
against one of this season's worst.
led a balanced attack with 19 points and the
Rockets held the reeling Cleveland Cavaliers without a basket
for over eight minutes of the first quarter en route to a 97-80
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pumped in five of his season-high 11 points in an
11-3 first-quarter run that opened a 22-11 advantage. The
Rockets never trailed thereafter.
Cleveland took its only lead, 6-4, on a layup by Bimbo Coles
1:22 into the game. It did not score again from the field until
a bucket by rookie Carlos Boozer
with 2:16 to go made it 22-13.
Trailing 45-38 at halftime, Cleveland tested Houston with a
strong third quarter, cutting the deficit to 63-61 on Ricky
16-footer with 1:39 to go.
But Kenny Thomas
made two free throws and, after back-to-back
misses by Davis, Steve Francis
hit a driving layup and Maurice
dunked for a 69-61 lead with 10 seconds remaining.
"That happens every time we get close," said Cleveland's
, who finished with 24 points. "They took
another run at us and we didn't answer. We have an eight-game
losing streak but we have a lot of close games. We can't finish
Francis scored 18 points and Eddie Griffin
added 17 and 10
rebounds for the Rockets, who bested the defending champion Los
Angeles Lakers Sunday.
"I think our offense is the result of whatever the defense gives
us," Francis said. "I think we did a good job of moving the
ball and finding the open guy. Tonight, guys were able to hit
The Rockets built a double-digit lead in the final quarter that
Cleveland whittled to 85-78 on Davis' 11-footer with 3:43 to go,
but Houston scored 12 of the final 14 points to ice the win.
"It definitely makes it easier when we're all scoring," said
Mobley, who was 6-of-8 from the floor in the final period. "I
was only thinking about shooting if someone passed it out to me.
I didn't have to force it."
"I thought we played very well, but they eventually wore us
down," said Cavaliers coach John Lucas. "The game was closer
than the score indicated. I was not pleased with the selfish
play at the end of the game. It wasn't just one guy, it was
several guys. But we're 2-10, and playing selfish just won't
Coming off a season-high 20-point performance Sunday, Rockets
rookie Yao Ming
collected nine points on 4-of-5 shooting to go
along with six rebounds in 18 minutes. Yao has hit 21 of his
last 23 shots.
Yao's teammates also were fairly accurate. Houston shot 51
percent (38-of-75) and held a commanding 48-27 advantage on the
"They outhustled us, they did a good job of boxing out and they
got some long rebounds. Sometimes those things happen,"
Davis finished with 19 points on 7-of-21 shooting for the
Cavaliers, who shot 42 percent (31-of-74).
On Friday, Cleveland takes its six-game road losing streak into
New Jersey, where it lost both games last season.