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Artest leads Rockets over Hornets

RON Artest scored all of his 18 points in the second half as the Houston Rockets overcame the absence of giant Chinese center Yao Ming in a 95-84 victory over the New Orleans Hornets last night.

Luis Scola and Aaron Brooks each scored 14 points, and Scola had 12 rebounds to help the Rockets end New Orleans' five-game winning streak at home.

Chris Paul had 29 points and 11 assists, while David West had 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Hornets.

Yao sat out with flu-like symptoms and Dikembe Mutombo started in his place.

Thunder 78, Spurs 76

At Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant scored 25 points and Thabo Sefolosha added 12 as the Thunder spoiled Gregg Popovich's 1,000th game as San Antonio's coach.

The Thunder didn't lead until midway through the fourth quarter, but kept San Antonio to its season low in scoring and escaped when Tony Parker missed a 3-pointer from the left side in the closing seconds.

Parker scored 28 points to lead San Antonio, and Tim Duncan had 14 points and 12 rebounds. Matt Bonner added 10 points.

Oklahoma City won for the fourth straight time at home.

Bobcats 112, Raptors 86

At Charlotte, North Carolina, Gerald Wallace scored 25 points and the Bobcats began an important week for their playoff hopes by beating the Raptors to snap a three-game losing streak.

D.J. Augustin added 15 points for the Bobcats, who moved within one game of Milwaukee and Chicago in the crowded race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Chris Bosh had 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Raptors, who committed 24 turnovers and lost for the eighth time in nine games.

Trail Blazers 103, Grizzlies 92

At Memphis, Tennessee, LaMarcus Aldridge had 22 points and eight rebounds, and Brandon Roy finished with 20 points and nine assists to lead Portland. Travis Outlaw added 18 points and Joel Przybilla had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who are trying to reach the Western Conference playoffs for the first time since 2003. Portland entered the game in the sixth spot in the West.

O.J. Mayo scored 21 points and handed out six assists to lead Memphis, which lost its 13th game in the last 15. Mike Conley had 20 points, and Rudy Gay scored 17 and grabbed 11 rebounds.

Nuggets 121, Nets 96

At Denver, J.R. Smith and Nene scored 19 points each and Chauncey Billups had 14 points and 10 assists as the Nuggets extended their winning streak to three.

Vince Carter scored 32 points for the Nets, who went 0-4 on the Western Conference portion of their five-game road trip. New Jersey plays at the New York Knicks on Wednesday.

The Nets played without injured point guard Devin Harris and forward Sean Williams, who was arrested yesterday at a cell phone store in a mall in suburban Denver on accusations he got into an argument with a clerk and threw a computer monitor.


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