Yao’s 30 Can’t Stop Rockets’ Slide
Chicago 94, Houston 89
HOUSTON, Nov. 26 (Ticker) -- The Houston Rockets finally got Yao Ming to be more assertive, but that aggression may have cost them in the end.
Yao scored 14 of his season-high 30 points in the final period, but fouled out and could not prevent the Rockets from losing their seventh straight game, a 94-89 setback to the Chicago Bulls.
"We went to the basket to get Yao out," Chicago coach Scott Skiles said. "Our guards did a good job penetrating the paint."
"He took a couple of bad fouls," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "His third one was bad and his last one was bad."
Hinrich, who been 1-for-9 from the field until his key drive, drew Yao away from the basket enough to slip by for him for the layup.
"I came off a pick-and-roll and made a play," Hinrich said. "(Yao) had to guard the pick-and-roll. He came out on me like I was going to shoot. I was able to get him off his feet."
"We can't guard the pick-and-roll," Van Gundy said. "No, change that. The Rockets won't guard the pick-and-roll."
With Yao out of the game, Ben Gordon and Andres Nocioni, who scored 17 points apiece for the Bulls, scored on uncontested drives in the final minute to put away the Rockets.
"We needed some easy baskets," Gordon said.
A three-time All-Star, Yao had come under fire for his lack of aggressiveness in the absence of fellow All-Star Tracy McGrady, who remains sidelined with a back strain.
Yao played harder but did not accomplish much for the first three quarters, shooting 3-of-12 from the field. He made all six shots in the fourth quarter.
"I think he was more determined," Van Gundy said. "He got good spots (on the floor), guys got the post better, we spaced the floor better."
Through three quarters, the Rockets shot a meager 29 percent (17-of-58) and scored just 60 points before Yao ignited the offense.
With Houston trailing, 75-60, Yao scored six points during a 9-0 burst. The Rockets tied it on David Wesley's three-point play with 1:37 to go, but Hinrich stepped up and Yao sat down.
"You have to attack him and not let him shoot open jumpers," said Chicago center Othella Harrington, who shared the duties of guarding Yao with Tyson Chandler. "We defended him as a team. It's very difficult to stop him individually."
"Yao is a great player," Chandler added. "You get good position on him and then he just turns and shoots over you."
The Rockets are mired in their longest losing streak since 2001. They fell to 0-8 without McGrady.
"Right now we're getting used to playing without him," Yao said. "It's getting better, but we can not finish things the right way."
Chicago, which completed a 3-3 road trip with three straight wins, remained steady in the closing minutes.
"It's playing with confidence, playing with poise," Hinrich said. "Hopefully it says we're getting better."
"They made some big plays near the end, we were right there," said Houston forward Stromile Swift, who made his first start for the Rockets and scored 12 points with seven rebounds in 21 minutes. "I guess it was lack of communication (on defense). We didn't rotate correctly."