Rockets down Raptors for 10th straight home win
Carl Landry matched a career high with 22 points, Luis Scola added 20 points and 16 rebounds and the Houston Rockets extended their home-court winning streak to 10 games with a 107-97 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night.
Yao Ming added 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Rockets, who moved a game ahead of New Orleans and Portland and 1½ in front of Utah in the NBA Western Conference standings.
The Rockets play the Jazz in Salt Lake City on Wednesday.
"We have to be aggressive," said Landry, playing his second game after missing the previous five with a sprained ankle.
"If they want to front Yao and play him like they did tonight, that's when the rest of the players on the team have to be aggressive."
Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani scored 25 points apiece and Jose Calderon matched a career high with 16 assists for the Raptors, who've lost seven of their last eight road games.
The Rockets led 79-74 in the final quarter, when Landry converted a three-point play and Yao scored twice over Bargnani to push the lead over 10.
Bosh seen limping
The Raptors responded with a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 86-82, but Bosh came up limping after fighting Yao for a rebound. He appeared to aggravate the right knee injury that forced him to miss five games in February.
Bosh stayed in the game, but Von Wafer hit two three-pointers to stretch Houston's lead to 96-84. Bosh went to the bench, then returned with 2:13 left, but the Rockets were up 100-88 at that point and never let the lead dip under 10 again.
Led by Landry, Houston's bench outscored Toronto's reserves 44-16.
"Their bench play was outstanding," Raptors coach Jay Triano said. "It's big when you have that kind of production."
Bargnani and Bosh dominated Yao early, scoring Toronto's first 22 points.
They pulled Houston's centre away from the basket and either shot over him or drove around him for layups. The duo also handled Yao on defence early, forcing him into a 2-for-6 start.
Bargnani's second three-pointer put the Raptors up 22-10 and Houston coach Rick Adelman replaced Yao with the smaller, more mobile Landry. The Rockets went to a zone defence with Yao on the bench and cut the lead to 26-20.
Yao returned for the start of the second quarter and scored twice over Bargnani in the first minute. Bargnani went out with his third foul and Bosh replaced him.
But the Rockets had solved Toronto's defence by then, mounting a 15-4 spurt over the next four minutes. Yao converted two offensive rebounds into dunks before Wafer finished off the run with another slam to put Houston up 42-35.
The Rockets shot 64 per cent (14 of 22) in the second quarter and led 57-49 at the break.
Bargnani was back for the start of the third quarter and sank two three-pointers to finish a quick 11-3 run. Yao struggled again in the third quarter, missing his first two shots with two turnovers.
Landry replaced Yao again with 3:50 left in the third quarter and the score tied at 68. Landry scored twice and Houston led 77-72 heading to the fourth quarter.