HOUSTON, Feb. 2 (Ticker) -- Eddie Griffin
showed how dangerous the
Houston Rockets can be when he plays well.
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Griffin scored half of his 22 points in the first quarter and
rookie Yao Ming
collected 18, 11 rebounds and a season-high six
assists as the Rockets rolled to a 105-89 rout of the
injury-plagued Sacramento Kings.
The Rockets have been as unpredictable as Griffin, who has
posted better averages in his second NBA season but has not been
consistent, mainly due to foul trouble. He scored just 16
points in his previous three games before turning in one of his
best performances of the season.
Griffin made 9-of-14 shots from the floor and fell one point shy
of his season high. He also grabbed eight rebounds and had two
blocks as Houston won for the third time in four games.
The second-year forward had four baskets, including a 3-pointer,
in the opening six minutes as the Rockets jumped out to a 17-4
lead. He buried a turnaround jumper with 2:49 left to give
Houston a 29-9 cushion.
"They got me the ball early, I got some good shots and I was
feeling it," he said. "I concentrated on not getting cheap
fouls. That was my trouble the last couple of games."
The Rockets made 14 of their first 18 shots while the Kings
opened the game 4-of-18 from the floor.
Yao scored eight points in the first quarter as Houston shot a
blistering 65 percent (15-of-23) en route to a 32-12 cushion.
Sacramento shot just 21 percent (5-of-23) in the opening 12
"What I liked about (the first quarter) was everybody got
involved," Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "Yao (six
assists) has a great feel for open people. (Yao and Griffin)
really gave us a lift. (Griffin) made his shots today. The last
couple of games he's sitting on the bench with early fouls."
scored seven of his 21 points in the second
quarter as the Rockets built a 59-32 halftime advantage.
"It one of our best, execution wise, first halves of the
season," Francis said. "The ball was going in early for us and
that set the tone for the whole game."
Houston had its largest lead at 65-37 after a pair of free
throws by Griffin less than two minutes into the third.
Sacramento's Peja Stojakovic
scored 19 of his 31 points in the
third quarter, but the Kings never got closer than 15 after
their dismal start.
"We got our heads hammered today," Sacramento coach Rick Adelman
said. "Houston was aggressive and took it at us and we were the
opposite. They played the game with more energy and took
advantage of it. They were very good and we were very bad. We
just didn't do anything. You can't come in and just expect to
Francis dished out eight assists and Cuttino Mobley
points for the Rockets, who shot 51 percent (44-of-86) from the
Stojakovic made 11-of-16 shots from the floor for the lackluster
Kings, who shot just 41 percent (34-of-83), including 3-of-13
from 3-point range.
"We have to change our approach to the game and get back on
track," Stojakovic said. "We were down by 20 at halftime and we
just can't afford to play that way. Our energy level and
aggressiveness were not there. We have to do something to change
the way we are playing."
scored 11 points and was the only player in double
figures as Sacramento lost for the fifth time in six games.
The Kings have struggled without All-Star forward Chris Webber
and center Scot Pollard
. Webber is sidelined at least three
weeks with a sprained left ankle and Pollard is out with a
broken right hand. Guard Bobby Jackson
remains on the injured
list with a broken hand.
"This team is going to have to find ways to win and suck it up
and we just haven't been doing that," Kings guard Doug Christie
said. "There should be no excuses. We just got the living
(bleep) beat out of us."