Rockets Never Trail in Home Win Over Sonics
Houston 115, Seattle 87
HOUSTON, March 29 (Ticker) -- With their postseason hopes almost over, the Houston Rockets kept alive one streak and ended another.
Yao Ming had 29 points and 10 rebounds and Stromile Swift and Richie Frahm scored 16 points apiece as the Rockets snapped their five-game home losing streak with a 115-87 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics.
Houston's frontcourt was too much for Seattle to handle. Led by the 7-5 Yao, it held an impressive 50-18 advantage in points in the paint.
Houston opened with an 18-4 burst in the first 4 1/2 minutes of play. Juwan Howard and rookie Luther Head combined for 13 points during the stretch.
"I thought Juwan got us off to a good start inside," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "It's a first-quarter league, so being ready to go in the first quarter is important. I think it was just one of those nights for Seattle. There wasn't much left in the tank."
Holding a 29-10 lead to start the second quarter, the Rockets built their advantage to a commanding 56-25 when Yao and Swift scored on back-to-back possessions to cap a 10-0 run with just under three minutes remaining.
"We just really picked it up on defense," said Yao, who made all 11 of his free throws. "We were really guarding people, our individual and team defense were the difference. We did that well from the start of the game and we were able to keep our eye on Ray (Seattle guard Ray Allen) and their better shooters on the perimeter."
Seattle did not challenge after intermission. It was without second-leading scorer Rashard Lewis, who sat out with a sprained ankle suffered in Tuesday's win at Memphis.
"I'm not going to use Rashard as an excuse, but I knew winning would be difficult," Seattle coach Bob Hill said. "We just weren't all there."
Allen, who hit the game-winner Tuesday, struggled to just 10 points on 1-of-13 shooting, including 1-of-6 3-pointers.
"They (Rockets) jumped us pretty good and we didn't adjust to what they were doing," Allen said. "Offensively, we didn't have anything going the entire game."
Head scored 14 points and Howard added 13 for Houston, which shot 51 percent (42-of-81) and had six players in double figures.
"We're a little small right now and may not have as much firepower as some teams, but for the most part we come ready to play," Van Gundy said. "We've had a tough schedule and I am happy with how the team has gone about business."
Reserve Earl Watson scored 20 points and Chris Wilcox added 16 for the SuperSonics, who shot 33 percent (24-of-71) and committed 20 turnovers.
"We just weren't there," Hill said. "This team has been through a lot, but we've had some pretty significant wins in the last 12 games."