Indiana (30-27) at Houston (28-33)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 80° F
  • Game info: 8:30 pm EST Wed Mar 8, 2006
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Yao Ming is playing the best basketball of his career. He looks to further his strong play and lead the Houston Rockets to their fourth straight victory as they host the Indiana Pacers.

The Rockets were without Tracy McGrady due to back problems in their 93-87 victory Tuesday over the Minnesota Timberwolves, but Yao provided enough offense, scoring 30 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.

Yao has scored more than 20 points in a career-high eight straight games, averaging 26.5 points and 14.1 rebounds with seven double-doubles in that span.

After starting the season 0-13 without McGrady in the lineup, the Rockets have won their last two games without the six-time All-Star.

“Without McGrady our record is pretty poor,” Yao said. “Before today we only had one. I really feel a lot of pressure because my teammates look to me and my opponent focuses on me, double team a lot, but we’re here, there’s no way back. We can only go forward and we came out with the victory.”

Yao had 24 points and 13 rebounds in Houston’s 85-74 loss Nov. 20 to Indiana, and the Rockets have lost two straight home games to the Pacers.

Houston has won six of its last eight games overall and 13 of its last 17 as it makes a push for a playoff spot.

The Rockets are three games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but they still have the Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz between them and the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Lakers.

The Pacers lost to the lowly New York Knicks 107-92 on Tuesday, shooting just 35.4 percent from the field.

The Pacers made 8 of 26 3-pointers, while the Knicks went 9-for-13 from behind the arc.

“They competed at a higher level than we did, and that’s disappointing,” Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. “We just didn’t have it. Everytime we would make a run, we’d make a defensive mistake and they’d get a 3.”

Stephen Jackson scored 20 points, but is shooting just 12-for-36 from the field and 2 of 11 from 3-point range in his last two games.

Peja Stojakovic also scored 20 points and is averaging 22.0 points on 45.6 percent shooting in his last six games. He scored a season-low three points on 1-for-5 shooting against Houston on Jan. 11, when he was a member of the Kings.

The Pacers have lost seven of their last 10 road games, averaging 89.1 points in those contests.

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