Rockets 101, Bulls 100


Friday, November 17th 2006, 5:33 am
By: News On 6


HOUSTON (AP) _ Tracy McGrady banked in a 3-pointer from the wing, shrugged his shoulders and high-fived Houston Rockets owner Les Alexander as he trotted down the court.

The shot early in the third quarter Thursday night put Houston up by 21 over the Chicago Bulls and had most of the fans in the Toyota Center feeling pretty good.

However, the way the Rockets have been playing lately, they know no lead is secure.

McGrady finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists to help Houston hold off Ben Gordon and Bulls, 101-100.

On Tuesday, the Rockets led San Antonio by 19, then collapsed and lost by eight. They've also nearly wasted large second-half leads in narrow wins over Memphis, Milwaukee and New York.

``To have breakdowns like that is really uncalled for,'' McGrady said. ``Moving forward, we have to do something about that.''

Yao Ming had 20 points and 12 rebounds, his third double-double in four games, and Rafer Alston scored 19 as the Rockets beat the Bulls for the seventh time in eight meetings.

Gordon almost single-handedly carried Chicago to a dramatic comeback win, scoring 30 of his 37 points in the second half.

Yao and McGrady went 3-for-10 in the final quarter, allowing the Bulls to stay within range.

``We won the game,'' Yao said, ``but I still feel frustrated about the fourth quarter.''

In the only other NBA game Thursday night, Golden State beat Sacramento 117-105.

Gordon scored nine points in the final minute and his driving bank shot with 27 seconds left cut Houston's lead to 95-92. After Shane Battier sank two free throws, Gordon swished a 3-pointer with 15.2 seconds left to pull the Bulls to within 97-95.

Alston hit two foul shots with 14.4 seconds left and Gordon missed a 3-pointer from the wing. Luther Head sank two free throws with 4.7 seconds remaining. Andres Nocioni had a layup and a 3-pointer in the closing seconds.

The Rockets' locker room was somber afterward as they struggled to explain their pattern of late-game dysfunction.

``We've just got to find a way to lock in, the same way we lock in through the first three quarters,'' Alston said. ``It's mind-boggling now _ back-to-back, to have such a lead and then let it evaporate like that.''

McGrady, who missed four of five shots in the final quarter, admitted he was having flashbacks to the Spurs' loss.

``I'm not happy at all,'' McGrady said. ``You've got to be happy about the win, but the overall picture is not good. We know some of those games can slip away.''

Gordon sank 11 of 22 shots and went 14-of-16 from the free-throw line, breaking out of an early-season slump. He came in shooting only 37.8 percent from the field.

``I was just trying to be a little aggressive,'' Gordon said. ``I've been struggling with my shot lately, so I wanted to get to the free-throw line. That's what kind of got me going.''

On Tuesday, Houston missed 25 of its last 27 shots to fuel San Antonio's rally. And about the same time the Rockets had collapsed against the Spurs, it started happening again.

Gordon's pull-up jumper with 3:50 left in the third quarter cut Houston's lead to 74-55 _ the exact score when San Antonio started its comeback two nights ago. Houston missed its last five shots of the quarter and Gordon scored 10 points in three minutes to help Chicago trim the deficit to 78-69 heading to the fourth.

The Bulls got within seven before Head swished a 3-pointer with 8:04 left for an 84-74 lead.

The Rockets led 90-79 when Gordon hit a jumper from just inside the 3-point line to start the Bulls' last-ditch rally with 3:29 to go.

``We just were a little bit too late,'' Gordon said. ``I just wish we'd done that at the beginning of the game.''

The Rockets missed 12 of their first 19 shots before reserve Scott Padgett sank a 3-pointer late in the first quarter to trigger a 20-6 burst. Padgett scored all 11 of his points and grabbed five rebounds during the spurt and Kirk Snyder finished it with a three-point play that gave the Rockets a 37-30 lead.

After hitting six of their first eight shots, the Bulls missed 17 of their next 23. The Rockets led 50-39 at the break, then started the second half with a 12-2 burst, capped by McGrady's banked-in 3-pointer.

Warriors 117, Kings 105

Baron Davis had 36 points, a career-high 18 assists and eight rebounds during another sensational performance that led the host Golden State to its fourth straight win.

Mickael Pietrus added 26 points for the Warriors.

Kevin Martin scored 26 points and Ron Artest had 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Kings, who were 1-for-17 on 3-pointers.