HOUSTON, Nov. 22 (Ticker) -- Steve Francis
helped make teammate Yao
's first NBA start a successful one.
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Yao scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds and Francis
scored seven of his 16 points in a key 5 1/2-minute stretch of
the third quarter as the Houston Rockets defeated the Washington
Yao and the Rockets dominated the paint, but Washington still
led, 53-52, after a jumper by Michael Jordan
with 6:49 left in
the third quarter.
The lead was short-lived, as rookie Juaquin Hawkins
hit a jumper
to ignite a 17-2 run that Francis capped with a three-pointer with
78 seconds left in the quarter for a 69-55 advantage.
"This was a really big win," Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich
said. "We've really been on a road trip the last week or so and
really needed to win tonight. Our zone saved us. We kep them
from getting to the free throw line."
"Coach told us at halftime to be aggressive and take those open
looks," Francis said. "I thought we did that in the second
half. What we want to do is execute in the halfcourt set when
we don't have anything in transition. I thought we did a good
job of that."
Yao led all scorers with 10 first-quarter points and had 14 in
the first half.
Jordan was held to eight points on 4-of-15 shooting.
"He (Yao) is getting better and better," Jordan said. "His
footwork is better than people thought. He's going to get even
better as he gets used to the NBA game and gets used to the
level of competition."
Yao was somewhat starstruck by his opponent.
"He (Jordan) will always be a hero, no matter the era," Yao said
through an interpreter. "It felt like a dream playing against
him. I didn't think it would ever happen."
Starting guard Cuttino Mobley
was placed on the injured list
before the game, but Hawkins stepped in and scored a career-high
14 points, grabbed eight boards and recorded five assists.
added 16 points and Kenny Thomas
chipped in 12 off the
bench for the Rockets, who shot 49 percent (36-of-74)
from the field and committed just eight turnovers.
hit five three-pointers in the first half and
scored 26 points and Larry Hughes
added 22 for Washington, which
shot 9-of-17 from the arc and 42 percent overall (35-of-83).
The Wizards also were careful with the ball, committing only
"The key was the third quarter," Stackhouse said. "Houston had
more success with their zone than we did with ours. We got away
from what we were doing in the first half."
added 14 points for Washington.
Trailing 45-44 at halftime on mediocre 17-of-40 shooting, the
Rockets caught fire in the third period. They made 13-of-18
from the floor, including 4-of-6 from the arc. Hawkins was a
big contributor, scoring 12 points in the quarter.
Houston improved to 5-1 at home.
The Rockets led by as many as five points in the second quarter,
but the Wizards went on a 16-6 burst and opened their biggest
lead at 45-40 on rookie Jared Jeffries