Rockets 95, Timberwolves 76

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HOUSTON (AP)—Yao Ming eclipsed 20 points and 10 rebounds for the third straight game—something he hadn’t done before in his NBA career.

Yao had 22 points and 15 rebounds to lead six Rockets players in double figures, and Houston held Minnesota to 26 points in the first half of a 95-76 victory Saturday.

“He’s been more aggressive the last three games. I keep wishing that he would do that all of the time,” Steve Francis said.

Yao had 21 points and 15 rebounds Wednesday against Boston and 21 points and 11 rebounds Tuesday against Washington. His recent strong play has coincided with the Rockets’ three-game winning streak.

“I thought he was very active. Whenever he gets some offensive rebounds that helps, and when he gets open shots that helps,” Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. “He can score in a number of ways.

“He had a bit of a lull there for four or five games, but recently he’s really played well.

Minnesota had its five-game winning streak snapped.

Francis scored 19, Maurice Taylor 16, Cuttino Mobley 13, Jim Jackson 11 and Kelvin Cato 10.

Sam Cassell led Minnesota with 25 points. Kevin Garnett added 19 and Latrell Sprewell had 13.

Houston, which never trailed, used a 15-0 run to take a 31-13 lead.

“We got kicked, and that’s all you can say about it. They came out and dominated us from beginning to end,” Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said.

It was 39-16 before Cassell scored eight points in the final 2:13 of the first half to cut the deficit to 45-26 at halftime. Minnesota missed 27 of its first 34 shots.

“We couldn’t throw a beach ball into the ocean,” Garnett said. “It was not a pretty game.”

“We got disrupted early. They jumped on us and they were physical with us. We just never got going,” Timberwolves center Ervin Johnson said. “Yao did a good job. He was aggressive and he came out ready to play. He rebounded and scored and did everything they asked him to do.”

Houston opened the second half by scoring eight straight points to lead 53-26, and built its advantage to 30 before Minnesota cut the deficit to 86-73.The Timberwolves never got closer.


Yao recorded his 17th double-double of the season. … Houston is 20-4 when leading after the first quarter and 2-12 when trailing after the firstperiod this season. … Minnesota plays 16 of its next 25 games at home.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
K. Garnett K. Garnett
7-20,  19 Pts
7 Rebs, 6 Assists
S. Francis S. Francis
6-13,  19 Pts
8 Rebs, 7 Assists

Team Stat Leaders