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Yao leads Rockets past Knicks 90-83
Updated: 2006-02-13 14:01

HOUSTON - Yao Ming had 24 points, eight rebounds and four blocks to help the Houston Rockets overcame Tracy McGrady's dismal shooting in a 90-83 victory over the New York Knicks on Sunday night.

Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, left, of China, and New York Knicks forward Maurice Taylor, right, reach for a rebound in the first half of NBA basketball action on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2006 in Houston. [AP]

David Wesley added 15 points, Rafer Alston had 14 points and seven assists and Juwan Howard had 10 points and eight rebounds for the Rockets in their sixth victory in their last seven games.

McGrady, who'll play in his sixth All-Star game next weekend, was 3-for-20 from the field and scored seven points, the only Houston starter held out of double figures. He also had seven rebounds, six assists and four turnovers.

Quentin Richardson scored 19 points and Jamal Crawford added 15 for the reeling Knicks. New York, which has lost nine in a row and 15 of its last 16, outrebounded Houston 45-38, but shot 37.5 percent after a good start.

McGrady had trouble from the opening tip, missing his first seven attempts. He scored 25 points Saturday in a win over Utah, but has struggled with his shot for weeks, shooting 37 percent (87-for-237) in Houston's last 10 games.

He swished a mid-range shot 30 seconds into the second quarter, but shot an airball from 3-point range on Houston's next possession. He went to the bench with 9:41 left in the half and the Rockets went on an 11-1 run without him.

Houston Rockets' Tracy McGrady, top, shoots over New York Knicks' Quentin Richardson, bottom, but continues to linger in a shooting slump scoring only 7 points against the Knicks during NBA basketball action on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2006 in Houston. Houston won 90-83. [AP]

When McGrady came back 4 minutes later, he missed three more jumpers, all off the front rim. The Knicks outscored the Rockets 17-10 after McGrady's return and trailed only 47-46 at the break.

With McGrady misfiring, Yao carried Houston in the opening half, hitting his first five shots and scoring 13 points.

McGrady sank a 21-foot shot 13 seconds into the second half, but his next shot was a long jumper that barely grazed the net and went out of bounds.

While McGrady was the only Rocket struggling, the Knicks' offensive woes were team-wide. New York missed its first seven shots after the break and Yao finished a 13-3 Rockets' spurt with a turnaround jumper and two free throws.

The Rockets led 69-60 after three quarters. McGrady was 2-for-18 at that point; the rest of the team was 21-of-34. The Knicks missed 16 of 21 shots in the third.

Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy benched McGrady again with 9:41 left and the Rockets' lead down to five.

But Eddy Curry, New York's 6-foot-11 center, fouled out with 9:03 remaining, opening up the lane for Yao and his teammates. A putback by Stromile Swift and a driving layup by Luther Head pushed Houston's lead back to 10.

McGrady returned with 4:17 left and sank a jumper from the free-throw line with 1:20 left, putting the Rockets up 86-75.

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