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Hawks overpowered by Rockets

POSTED: February 21, 2008 5:01 a.m.
The Associated Press/

Houston Rockets' Yao Ming (11) blocks the shot of Atlanta Hawks' Josh Childress (1) during the first quarter of the Hawks' loss to Houston on Saturday in Houston.

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HOUSTON — Yao Ming had 28 points and nine rebounds, and the Houston Rockets routed the Atlanta Hawks 108-89 on Saturday night for their 10th win in 11 games.

Tracy McGrady added 15 points and eight assists, Luis Scola added 14 points and nine rebounds, and Houston won its sixth straight. The Rockets have won 15 of 19 games in 2008 and are on their longest winning streak since closing the 2004-05 regular season with seven consecutive victories.

Josh Childress scored 18 and Zaza Pachulia had 11 points and nine rebounds for the Hawks, who’ve lost 10 of their last 11 road games and their last nine visits to Houston.

The Rockets never trailed, dominating inside and holding Atlanta to one of its worst shooting nights of the season. The Rockets scored 54 points in the paint and finished with a season-high 32 assists, while the Hawks went 32-for-86 from the field (37 percent) and 0-for-5 from 3-point range. No Atlanta starter even reached double figures.

Houston opened the game with a 10-2 run as the sluggish Hawks missed five of their first six shots. The Rockets grabbed two offensive rebounds on one long possession and Yao spun for an easy layup, a sign of things to come.

The 6-foot-9 Scola, now a regular starter, had eight points and six rebounds in the opening quarter as Houston built a 30-16 lead. The Rockets went 13-for-23 in the period.

The Hawks missed nine of their first 10 shots of the second quarter and the Rockets stretched the lead to 46-25.

The Rockets scored 28 of their first 46 points in the paint, seemingly getting any shot they wanted down low.

When Yao wasn’t flipping in shots over 6-foot-10 Al Horford or the 6-11 Pachulia, his teammates were driving down the lane for layups.

In the closing seconds of the half, Shane Battier threw a baseball pass to midcourt and Rafer Alston batted it to Scola, volleyball-style, for a layup that gave Houston a 56-31 halftime lead and typified Atlanta’s night.

The Hawks shot 28 percent (12-of-43) in the first half and their point total was only one point better than a season low for an opening half.

The Rockets stayed in control in the third quarter, hitting four of their first six shots. Even when the Hawks made a play, they’d cancel it out with a miscue. Five minutes after halftime, Anthony Johnson picked off a steal then bounced a breakaway dunk high off the back of the rim.

The lead was 88-55 at the end of the third quarter and every Houston starter but Yao was done for the night. Yao checked out for good with 10:24 left in the game.

Notes: The Hawks failed to make a 3-pointer for the fifth time this season. ... Late in the third quarter, Scola appeared to jam a finger on his left hand when Childress swatted the ball out of his hands. Scola went to the bench, grimacing in pain and did not return. ... The Hawks’ 10 points in the second quarter were a season low for both Atlanta and a Houston opponent. ... Rockets G Luther Head sat out for the fourth straight game with a strained groin.



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