Miller Scores 30 as Kings Defeat Rockets
Sacramento 86, Houston 77
SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 9 (Ticker) -- Brad Miller was in control on both ends of the floor to lead the Sacramento Kings closer to the postseason.
Miller had 30 points and 11 rebounds and Mike Bibby added 23 points for the Kings, who won for the sixth time in seven games with an 86-77 victory over the Houston Rockets.
"I'm not going to complain about this," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "We've got four more to go. If we keep winning, there's nothing anybody else can do about it."
Miller made 10-of-18 shots from the floor to reach the 30-point plateau for the second time season. He scored eight points and set up Bibby for a jumper that capped a 16-2 run to open the game.
"At the beginning of the game, we dug a big hole," Rockets center Yao Ming said. "We weren't ready to play. In the second half, we had a chance but our turnovers and pick-and-roll coverage is still not that good. We let the game slip away."
After Stromile Swift sank an 18-footer to bring the Rockets within 31-27 with 6:50 left in the second quarter, the Kings went on an 18-4 burst. Bibby scored eight points -- including a pair of 3-pointers -- and Miller scored four in the surge for a 49-35 edge.
"Certain matchups you feel real confident about," Miller said. "I've done pretty well against Yao (offensively), but he's got me on the other end. ... This is a game where you really have to try to tire him down. Your best offense and defense is to get him on the bench. You've got to really push on him and make him work on both ends."
Yao nearly missed most of the second half on the sidelines after twisting his left ankle when he landed on another player's foot during a rebound battle. But he waived off Dikembe Mutombo's attempt to replace him with less than eight minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Yao received treatment on his ankle following the contest and was hesitant to commit to playing in Monday's game at Utah.
"Let's test it," Yao said. "It should be fine."
Houston refused to give in and cut the margin to 67-65 when Yao dunked with 7:03 remaining. However, the Kings slowly pulled away as Bibby nailed a basket from the arc, Ron Artest hit a long jumper and Miller made a 3-pointer for an 81-74 edge with 1:17 to go.
"They played with a little more energy than us in the second half but we withstood that and came out with the win," Bibby said. "Brad was rebounding, passing and shooting the ball well. We needed all of his 30 (points) tonight."
Sacramento helped Houston's third-quarter comeback by shooting just 28 percent (5-of-18) during the period while the Rockets hit 11-of-16 from the floor. However, Sacramento held a 21-6 scoring edge from the free-throw line in the contest.
Artest scored 15 points and Bonzi Wells added 10 with 12 rebounds for Sacramento, which shot just 40 percent (28-of-69) from the floor and held an opponent below 100 points for the 15th straight home game.
"We let them back in the game," Artest said. "We can't have those letdowns, but we played decent tonight. We started moving the ball, rebounding and defending a little better late in the fourth quarter."
Juwan Howard scored 22 points and Yao had 19 with 12 rebounds for the Rockets (33-44), who lost for the 11th time in 15 outings.
"Every guy in this locker room is responsible for this loss," Howard said. "We didn't secure rebounds. We didn't guard the pick-and-roll the right way. It was just unacceptable. If you enjoy playing this game and you have any type of pride, why would you just quit? I know our coach is not going to let us quit."