Yao leads Rockets Past Warriors in OT Win
Houston 111, Golden State 105 (OT)
OAKLAND, Calif., Dec. 15 (Ticker) -- Rookie Luther Head and Yao Ming gave the Houston Rockets the kind of lift down the stretch that the Golden State Warriors certainly could have used.
Head forced overtime with a late 3-pointer and Yao scored a season-high 30 points and grabbed 16 rebounds as the Rockets rallied for a 111-105 triumph over the Warriors.
"The play was for Tracy McGrady, we were trying to give him the ball," Head said. "We tried to give him the ball, but they double-teamed him. The second option, the coach told me to give it to Yao and then step in if he had to hand it back to me, and I took it and just made it. It gave me a little confidence."
Head, who finished with seven points, had been 2-of-8 from the floor prior to his clutch basket.
"I hadn't been shooting well the whole game," Head said. "Then I made one shot and it gave me some confidence to keep shooting."
After Golden State's Troy Murphy opened overtime with a free throw, Yao answered with a pair of jumpers and made a nice pass to Ryan Bowen for a layup that gave Houston the lead for good at 104-103 with 2:42 remaining.
"After I made two shots, I knew they would come to double team before I get deep," Yao said. "I'm thinking, find my teammate on the perimeter or in the paint. So you have to trust your teammate at every sequence."
"Yao was getting double-teamed and Yao did a good job of finding me on a cut, and then I got fouled on the other one," said Bowen, who collected 13 points and eight rebounds. "It wasn't much more than that. It's tough to double a guy from the baseline. There's no help there and I would just follow him to the ball and then made my layups."
David Wesley, who scored 19 points, pushed the advantage to 106-103 on a layup and Bowen and Wesley each made a pair of free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
"We just look at where we started at, 0-8 without me in the lineup, and now with me being back, we're on a roll," said McGrady, who has led the team to five wins in six games since returning from back spasms. "We're crawling up, just taking it one game at a time.
"I know that sounds a little cliched, but that's how we're doing it and we're just motivated. We have no room for error, so we're going out and playing hard for 48 minutes every game because we know how pivotal each game is."
Meanwhile, the defeat had to be a demoralizing one for Golden State, which has dropped three of four following a five-game winning streak.
Jason Richardson and Baron Davis each came through with strong games for the Warriors (13-9), but neither stepped up down the stretch in a game that they need to win if they want to be considered a contender in the Western Conference.
"We're playing against teams that have guys like Tracy and Yao or teams like Detroit and Phoenix," Richardson said. "We've got to find a way to win games. They've been in the playoffs, they've got superstars, they've got guys that know how to win games, and we're still trying to figure that out."
Richardson finished with 28 points on 12-of-26 shooting and Davis had 27 and 13 assists. Murphy added 19 points and Derek Fisher 15 for Golden State, which made a season-high 15 3-pointers but was outrebounded, 61-32.
"It's all part of the process, but we've got to find a way to win these games, regardless if we haven't been here before, or we're young, or whatever the situation is," Richardson said. "When it comes down to it, we've got to find a way to win these games. It was our game in regulation and (Head) hit a good shot, but you've got to find a way to get that stop to win the game."
Yao finished 12-of-18 from the floor and 6-of-7 from the line in 41 minutes. McGrady added 23 points but made just 6-of-18 shots, including an incredibly difficult 3-pointer in the last minute of regulation.
Wesley drilled a 3-pointer with 6:56 remaining in the third quarter to give Houston a 66-60 lead. But Richardson scored eight straight points for Golden State to spark a 17-3 run over the next six minutes.
"It's disappointing," Warriors coach Mike Montgomery said. "The guys really fought back and really battled in the second half to give themselves a chance to win."
With Houston trailing, 80-71, early in the fourth, Yao converted a three-point play and made a hook shot to create a four-point game. But Davis and Fisher drilled 3-pointers around a layup by Bowen, and Calbert Cheaney swished a jumper to bring the lead back to 10.
On the Warriors' next two possessions, Richardson made a difficult fadeaway jumper and found Murphy for a 3-pointer to give Golden State its biggest lead at 93-82 with 4:42 to go.
But the Rockets were determined not to let their three-game winning streak come to an end, as Bowen ignited the pivotal burst with a three-point play and Head capped the comeback with his clutch 3-pointer.
"It was just one of those plays," Fisher said. "It was just a good shot. They needed to make a difficult shot in order to tie. We just wanted to force them to take a tough shot."