Rockets Beat Kings Without McGrady

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HOUSTON (AP) - Yao Ming had 24 points and 18 rebounds, Rafer Alston dished out a season-high 13 assists and the Houston Rockets won again without the injured Tracy McGrady, beating the Sacramento Kings 94-82 on Wednesday night.

Luis Scola added 19 points and 11 rebounds and Ron Artest scored 19 for the Rockets, who improved to 12-6 with McGrady out of the lineup this season. McGrady missed his 17th game with soreness in his left knee, the aftermath of offseason surgery. He also sat out one game with a sprained ankle.

After a sluggish first half, the Rockets hardly needed McGrady
against the woeful Kings, who scored only 31 points in the middle two quarters.

Houston led by only four at the break, then outscored Sacramento 35-21 in the third quarter. The Kings went only 6-for-13 from the field in the quarter, got outrebounded 10-4 and gave away eight turnovers.

Kevin Martin scored 18 points and rookie Jason Thompson added 14 in the game for the Kings, who've lost five in a row and 13 of 14.

The Kings hit 11 of their first 18 shots to build an early lead. The 6-foot-11 Thompson scored 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting in the first 9 minutes, but then went to the bench with two fouls.

Alston had six assists in the first quarter, but the Rockets went scoreless for a 3-minute stretch and trailed 25-22.

The teams combined for 11 turnovers in the first 6 1/2 minutes of the ragged second quarter. Martin intercepted a pass and drove for a layup to put Sacramento up 34-30 with 5:13 left in the half.

The Rockets finished the half with a 9-1 spurt as the Kings missed their last six shots. The Kings mustered a season-low 10 points in the second quarter after going 4-for-17 from the field.

Houston wasn't much better, scoring only 17 points in the period on 7-for-21 shooting.

Houston opened the third quarter with a 21-8 spurt and pulled away from there. Yao scored 11 points during the surge and Scola's layup with 6:03 left in the third quarter put the Rockets up 60-43.

Sacramento gave away five turnovers in the first 5 minutes of the quarter before Martin sank a long jumper to make it 60-45.

Scola sank a free throw, Yao slammed home a dunk off an offensive rebound, and Artest raced for a fast-break layup over the next minute as the lead swelled past 20.

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