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Yao guides Rockets past lowly Warriors

THIS is about when and how the Houston Rockets started their 22-game winning streak last season. Right now, they're thinking more about steady improvement than getting on another run like that.

Yao Ming had 25 points and 11 rebounds, Ron Artest scored 27 and the Rockets beat the Golden State Warriors 110-93 on Saturday night in Houston.

Aaron Brooks had 22 points and nine assists, both career highs, and Carl Landry added 17 points and eight rebounds for the Rockets, who played without Tracy McGrady after he sprained his left ankle in practice on Friday.

Corey Maggette scored 17 and Stephen Jackson added 16 for the Warriors, who've lost nine of their last 10 road games.

Houston was 24-20 and beat Golden State on January 29, 2008, the first of 22 straight victories. The Rockets have been looking for consistency all of this season and hope that Saturday's win is a step in the right direction.

"Hopefully, this is a sign of something,'' said Artest, who started for McGrady. "Hopefully, this game is where it turns around and we can just get on a streak here.''

The upcoming schedule is favorable - Houston plays eight of its next 10 games at home and faces only three teams with winning records in that span.

"We just need to start playing well,'' said Brooks. "It's a good start. We've got a lot of work to do still, but we want to try to keep it rolling.''

In other games, it was: Spurs 106, Hornets 93; Trailblazers 122, Jazz 108; Mavericks 111, Heat 96; Bucks 110, Hawks 107; Lakers 115, Grizzlies 98; Bulls 122, Suns 111; Nets 85, 76ers 83; Knicks 122, Pacers 113; and Wizards 106, Clippers 94.

The Rockets led 81-75 after three quarters, then pulled away after Golden State missed six of its first eight shots in the fourth.

Houston coach Rick Adelman let Brooks, the backup point guard, finish the game after starter Rafer Alston went 1-for-8 from the field over the first three quarters.

"He was really playing aggressive,'' Adelman said, "and that's what he's got to do. He gives us energy off the bench.''

The Rockets blew a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter against Philadelphia on Wednesday night, but outscored the Warriors 29-18 in the final quarter of this one.

"That is when we should play our best quarter of the game,'' Yao said. "We kept our intensity, especially our defensive intensity.''

In San Antonio, Tony Parker prevailed in a clash of NBA All-Star point guards, scoring 25 points and stretching San Antonio's divisional lead over Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets in Saturday's 106-93 win.

Paul, who scored 38, will start ahead of Parker for the Western Conference at the All-Star game in two weeks.

In Memphis, Tennessee, Memphis lost its 12th straight, beaten comfortably by Los Angeles.

Kobe Bryant scored 25 points and had seven assists, while Pau Gasol had 24 points and eight rebounds for the Lakers, who won for the sixth time in the past seven games.


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