Houston 108, L.A. Clippers 90
LOS ANGELES, March 24 (Ticker) --
With their playoff fate hanging in the balance, the Houston Rockets are turning to James Posey
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Posey recorded a season high for the second time in as many weeks, scoring 23 points to lead the Rockets to a 108-90 victory
over the Los Angeles Clippers.
With Phoenix losing to Seattle, the Rockets moved a game ahead of the Suns in the race for the eighth and final Western
Conference playoff spot. Houston is 1½ games behind the seventh-place Los Angeles Lakers.
"You don't want to think too far into the future," Houston rookie Yao Ming said through an interpreter. "You just want to concentrate on the next game. I know you love to think about the playoffs. To me, the playoffs are very important."
Posey also had 23 points on March 14, helping the Rockets to a 121-91 rout of Chicago.
"Everybody kept telling me to keep shooting," Posey said. "I felt really good. They were able to find me in certain
situations and I was able to come through."
The Rockets took control of this game early, opening with a 9-0 run in the first 2:23. Houston's lead was 34-18 by the end of the first quarter behind 12 points from Posey, who made his first seven shots and went 5-of-6 from three-point range.
"During the first quarter, they shot extremely well," Clippers coach Dennis Johnson said. "Simply put, they hit their shots
and we didn't."
Eddie Griffin scored 16 points and Glen Rice had 15 in 15 minutes off the bench for the Rockets, who got only eight from Steve Francis on 2-of-8 shooting.
"We moved the ball and tonight it feels good when everyone's shot is going down," Posey said.
Already eliminated from playoff contention, Los Angeles trailed by as many as 28 points and lost for the 14th time in 17 games.
"Hopefully, we can just set a goal for ourselves to try and win some games and get better," Clippers guard Corey Maggette said. "I just want to finish out strong and help this team win."
Lamar Odom had a season-high 30 points to lead Los Angeles, which got no closer than 101-86 in the second half. Odom shot 13-of-18 from the field and had 10 rebounds.
"I'd rather go 1-for-30 or 1-for-40 and we win," Odom said. "We keep saying this, but it's another one we've got to put behind us."
The Clippers could not mount a comeback because the Rockets never lost their shooting stroke. After connecting at 58
percent (25-of-43) in the first half, Houston shot 52 percent (16-of-31) after intermission to stem the tide as Los Angeles
shot 48 percent (22-of-46).
"There are two halves in a game," said Rockets interim coach Larry Smith. "Teams have come back from large deficits, so we
just remembered to stay focused and keep the tempo up. We were able to make plays for all four quarters."
With Yao as a drawing card, the Clippers attracted their seventh sellout crowd of the season. But the 7-5 phenom played just 20 minutes and collected eight points and three rebounds. Fellow Chinese center Wang Zhizhi scored nine points and had six rebounds off the bench for Los Angeles.
"I think I got enough rest tonight," Yao said. "And that will help me to prepare for the next two games."
The Rockets host the Lakers on Wednesday and travel to San Antonio on Thursday.
Maggette scored 14 points and Andre Miller added 11 for Los Angeles.
With Rice's outburst and 14 points from Maurice Taylor, the Rockets' bench outscored the Clippers' reserves, 38-19.