OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Al Harrington gives up 9 inches and 60 pounds to Yao Ming. Yet by using his quickness to front and harass the 7-foot-6 Yao, Harrington is somehow able to shut down Houston’s All-Star center.
Harrington outplayed Yao for a second straight meeting, shutting him down at one end and scoring 18 points on the other to help the Golden State Warriors beat the Rockets 113-94 on Thursday night for their eighth win in nine games after an 0-6 start.
Yao shot 4-for-12 and had five turnovers, finishing with a season-low 10 points. Andris Biedrins started the game guarding Yao but coach Don Nelson quickly changed to Harrington. In two games against the Warriors since Harrington joined the team last season, Yao has only 19 points on 6-of-16 shooting.
“I definitely do not own Yao Ming. If I play behind him, he will kill me,” Harrington said, crediting his teammates for their help defensively.
“He still had opportunities to make some baskets but I think by the time he got it he was tired by being hit and fronted all the time. We did a good job of wearing him down.”
Baron Davis led the way with 27 points and eight assists and Stephen Jackson added 19 points for the Warriors (8-7), who became the fastest team in NBA history to post a winning record after losing its first six games. Cleveland took 23 games to do it in 1995-96.
Jackson’s return from a season-opening seven-game suspension has played a big part in the resurgence, as the Warriors defense has stiffened up since getting their stopper back.
“It definitely feels good,” Jackson said. “It was hard work. We want to continue to stay above .500. We don’t want to go on another slide where we lose six in a row.”
Nelson gave the credit for this win to Harrington, who pulled Yao away from the basket on the offensive end by making four of five 3-pointers and frustrated him on the defensive end.
“Yao is not able to guard Harrington yet we could guard him at the other end by some techniques that were successful tonight,” Nelson said. “Al did a marvelous job. If anybody gets the game ball tonight, I think it’s Al. He did such a great job on Yao with his fronting and then he made his shots and just made it a miserable night for Yao. That doesn’t happen very often.”
Golden State even held its own on the boards against the taller Rockets, outrebounding them 45-41. Ellis and Biedrins led the way with 10 boards apiece. Houston had outrebounded its last three opponents by at least 10 each game.
After the teams traded runs in the first half, Golden State opened the game up early in the third quarter. Barnes hit a 3-pointer, a driving layup and fed Ellis on an alley-oop during a 15-2 run that gave the Warriors a 74-55 lead midway through the third.
Ellis had six points during the spurt, capping it with the alley-oop and a fast-break basket off a feed from Davis. Ellis finished with 18. The Rockets never got the deficit into single digits after that.
Reserve Mike James led Houston with 19 points. Tracy McGrady was held to 11 points on 5-of-14 shooting. The Rockets, who had won three straight, missed 13 of 30 free throws, including a 1-for-5 performance by Steve Francis.
“They did a great job of taking Yao and myself out of the game,” McGrady said. “Every time we touched the ball we had two guys hanging off us. Even before we touched the ball we had two guys hanging off us. Everybody talks about how they are not a good defensive team, but for us it’s a just a bad matchup.”
Golden State scored the first eight points of the game and led 18-3 midway through the opening quarter as Houston made only one of its first 10 shots and turned the ball over three times. The Rockets fought back with a 14-3 ruin later in the quarter and trailed only 29-24 after one.
Houston scored nine straight early in the second quarter to take its first lead of the game before the Warriors responded with a 14-2 run to help take a 59-50 lead at the break.
“They kept attacking us. We have to respond better,” Houston coach Rick Adelman said. “They have the ability to run up the score again even when they let you back in the game. That’s what happened after we took the lead.”
Both teams were on the back end of back-to-backs, with Houston having won at Phoenix and Golden State winning at Sacramento on Wednesday. … Official Scott Foster called technicals on McGrady and Jackson for arguing in a span of 1:07 late in the second quarter.