HOUSTON, Feb. 12 (Ticker) -- The New York Knicks held All-Star Tracy McGrady to seven points. It still wasn't good enough for them to win.

Yao Ming collected 24 points, eight rebounds and four blocks to help offset McGrady's dismal 3-of-20 shooting performance as the Houston Rockets posted a 90-83 triumph over the Knicks, who suffered their ninth straight loss and 15th in 16 games.

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"If we want to be a great team, we can't play without Tracy," Yao said. "Tonight we were able to win. Even without his great scoring, we were able to play great defense."

The 7-5 Yao was virtually unstoppable in the post as Eddy Curry and rookie Channing Frye both fouled out trying to contain the All-Star center, who drained 8-of-13 shots and 8-of-11 free throws in helping the Rockets notch their sixth win in seven games.

"I stayed aggressive the whole game, but I got into foul trouble and it just happened," said Curry, who scored nine points. "I have to learn to find a way to play through it."

"I think foul trouble played a big part," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "Obviously, Curry was limited by fouls. I thought we got a little bit better help. He's (Yao's) a load. He's hard to guard down there. He's very, very skilled offensively."

Houston used a 11-1 run at the start of the third quarter, capped by Yao's second basket of the spurt with 7:26 remaining, to build a 58-47 advantage. Meanwhile, New York failed to make its first seven field goal attempts of the period.

"In the first half, we played good defense, but they had 22 foul shots," Yao said. "That's a waste of our energy and a waste of our defense. In the third quarter, we were able to keep them off the free throw line, and that really helped us."

"You've got to get the ball into Yao," said Rockets guard Rafer Alston, who scored 14 points. "He'll either shoot or throw it out, then you get it back in. It's hard to stop a guy like that who's 7-5."

Quentin Richardson scored eight of his 19 points in the third period for New York and was responsible for defending the 6-8 McGrady.

"I was trying to force him (McGrady) to pass the ball but then he shot it," said Richardson, who made 3-of-6 shots from the arc. "I take everything in this game as whether I win or lose, and the other things are not really important. We didn't win the game and that is the bottom line."

Frye's jumper with just under nine minutes left in the fourth quarter pulled the Knicks within 74-68, but they would get no closer.

Stromile Swift and rookie Luther Head scored on back-to-back possessions as the Rockets increased their lead to 80-70.

Houston put the game out of reach when McGrady nailed a jumper from the left wing and David Wesley made two free throws with 57 seconds left, making it 88-75.

"I kept telling (McGrady) to keep playing the game and he still carried us," said Wesley, who scored 15 points and made 4-of-7 3-pointers. "He still draws double teams and if you pass the ball, it's our job to knock down open shots and he got me a couple early. He is still doing what he does even though he's not scoring. He creates double teams and makes people rotate, and we can benefit from that."

The Knicks struggled after intermission connecting on just 13-of-42 shots.

"We had a horrible third quarter, and that has been the case this year," Knicks coach Larry Brown said. "When we got behind in the second half, we became impatient."

McGrady contributed seven rebounds and six assists for the Rockets, who shot 41 percent (28-of-68) from the field and scored 28 points in the paint.

Jamal Crawford scored 15 points and Jalen Rose added 11 for New York, which shot 37 percent (27-of-72) overall.

"We have to find a way to get some easy baskets," said Rose, who made 3-of-9 shots and committed three turnovers.

The Knicks continue to struggle without injured leading scorer Stephon Marbury, slipping to 0-9 in his absence.