Yao and Rockets Overpower Knicks 103-94

Saturday, November 11th 2006, 7:45 am

By: News On 6

Yao Ming is the best center in the NBA and Zach Randolph is one of the league's most dominant players. That is what others are saying about them. And after the performances they delivered Friday night, who could argue?

Yao scored 35 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and matched a career high with seven blocks in the Houston Rockets' 103-94 victory over the New York Knicks.

Next up for Yao is a matchup with Shaquille O'Neal on Sunday when Houston visits Miami. Tracy McGrady doesn't need to wait for the results of that game to convince him of Yao's place in the league.

``I don't care who you try to match up against him, I don't care who you say is the most dominant,'' McGrady said. ``No. 11 on my team, hands down, is the best center in the league.''

Randolph is averaging 28.5 points and 10.5 rebounds for Portland, and finished with 31 and 12 in a stunning victory over New Orleans. The Trail Blazers erased a 27-point deficit to win 92-91, the biggest collapse in Hornets history.

Randolph made the go-ahead free throw with 2.4 seconds left, powerfully driving to the basket to draw a foul after the Hornets had tied it on Peja Stojakovic's 3-pointer.

``He is one of the most significant forces in the NBA right now,'' said Portland assistant Dean Demopoulos, who ran the team with coach Nate McMillan away after the death of a family member.

In other games, it was: Indiana 93, Orlando 83; Atlanta 111, Toronto 102; Washington 116, Milwaukee 111; Denver 108, Philadelphia 101; Seattle 99, Charlotte 85; Utah 107, Boston 100; Miami 113, New Jersey 106; and Detroit 97, the Los Angeles Lakers 83.

Stojakovic scored 21 points for the Hornets, who blew 25-point leads in losses on two occasions. Desmond Mason had 16 of his 18 points in the first quarter for the Hornets, who lost their second straight game after a franchise-best 4-0 start.

``This should have been over early,'' said Hornets point guard Chris Paul, who had 12 points and eight assists.

It would have been, if not for Randolph. He scored 12 of the Blazers' last 14 points in the first half as Portland put together an 18-4 run to cut the lead to 53-44.

``This team made this comeback and did it for Nate,'' Demopoulos said. ``I thought the kids showed some amazing resilience. What impressed me is they kept listening to coaches and we got good feedback from them at timeouts.''

Yao was 15-of-21 from the field, and his play on the other end was just as impressive. He outclassed Knicks center Eddy Curry, who said he had never seen Yao so active.

``Coach (Jeff Van Gundy) has told me there are two things that if you do them well, you play well. One of them is rebound, the other is block shots,'' Yao said. ``I think he just wants me to have more energy on the defensive side.''

Heat 113, Nets 106

Dwyane Wade scored 34 points, Udonis Haslem added a career-high 28 and visiting Miami pulled away in the fourth quarter.

Shaquille O'Neal, playing for the first time since missing two games with a bruised left knee, fouled out with 2:35 left in the game with 13 points and six rebounds.

Vince Carter led New Jersey with 33 points, and Richard Jefferson scored 16 despite missing most of the second half after appearing to reinjure his ankle.

Hawks 111, Raptors 102

At Toronto, Joe Johnson scored a season-high 34 points and Josh Smith had a career-best 29 as Eastern Conference-leading Atlanta (4-1) moved three games over .500 for the first time in 7 1/2 years.

Chris Bosh had 19 points and 17 rebounds for the Raptors, who dropped to 2-3.

Nuggets 108, 76ers 101

Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points, Andre Miller added 18 and Marcus Camby had 10 points and 11 rebounds to lift visiting Denver (1-3) to its first victory.

Kyle Korver had 23 points and Allen Iverson scored 21 for the Sixers, who lost their third straight.

Pistons 97, Lakers 83

At Los Angeles, Tayshaun Prince tied his career high with 31 points, Chauncey Billups added 21 and Detroit led virtually the entire game.

Kobe Bryant led the listless Lakers with 19 points _ all but two coming in the fourth quarter. Lamar Odom had 16 points before being ejected on his second technical foul with 2:16 left in the game.

Wizards 116, Bucks 111

Gilbert Arenas scored 13 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, and the host Wizards overcame an 11-point deficit in the final period.

Michael Redd scored 28 points to lead the Bucks, who have lost three straight.

SuperSonics 99, Bobcats 85

Ray Allen scored 26 points and Rashard Lewis added 19 of his 21 in the second half as visiting Seattle spoiled Adam Morrison's first NBA start.

Emeka Okafor had 20 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks, while Brevin Knight added 19 points for the Bobcats before he was ejected.

Pacers 93, Magic 83

At Indianapolis, Al Harrington tied a season high with 32 points, Danny Granger scored 18, and Jermaine O'Neal added nine points and 11 rebounds after sitting out a game with a sore left ankle.

Jameer Nelson scored 19 points and Dwight Howard had 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Magic.

Jazz 107, Celtics 100

Deron Williams had 26 points and 14 assists, Carlos Boozer added 24 points and 14 rebounds, and visiting Utah beat Boston for the first time in nearly three years.

Mehmet Okur added 23 points for the Jazz, who snapped a four-game losing streak to the Celtics.

Paul Pierce scored 30 points for the Celtics, who are 1-4 for the first time since 1997-98.

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