HOUSTON (AP)—Yao Ming has figured out by now that if he plays aggressively, he’ll either score or get fouled almost every time he touches the ball.
Yao, an 88-percent free-throw shooter, went 17-of-19 from the line and 9-for-9 in the final quarter as Golden State’s big men helplessly tried to defend him.
“I’m just attacking the rim,” said Yao, Houston’s leading scorer. “If I catch it in the paint and turn around and draw contact, seven or eight times out of 10, the referee will give you the call.”
“Yao plays like he’s 8 feet tall,” said Corey Maggette, who scored 23 for Golden State. “It’s hard for a small lineup to defend him inside and then when we got in foul trouble, it was impossible to stop him.”
And when the Warriors double-teamed him, Yao found teammates open on the perimeter. Rafer Alston and Von Wafer scored 18 points apiece and the Rockets went 13-of-21 from 3-point range to hand the Warriors their eighth straight loss.
Golden State coach Don Nelson was ejected late in the third quarter and Houston finished the game with a 30-11 run to reach a season-high point total.
Yao’s three-point play with 7:14 left broke a 101-101 tie, and Alston drove for a layup to stretch Houston’s lead to five. Yao scored on the Rockets’ next trip down to match their biggest lead at seven.
“He was a monster in the fourth,” Alston said of Yao.
The Warriors shot close to 60 percent through the first 3 1/2 quarters, then had only one field goal in a 3-minute span as Yao and the Rockets finally pulled away.
Yao put back Artest’s miss with 5:26 left, and Shane Battier sank two free throws with 4:45 to go to push the lead to 114-103. Golden State never threatened again and Jackson was tossed for arguing a foul call.
Golden State shot 60 percent (12-of-20) from the field in the first quarter and led only 32-30.
The Warriors hit seven of their first eight shots in the second quarter, while Wafer scored the Rockets’ first seven points to keep them close. The seldom-used shooting guard hadn’t scored more than 10 in a game this season.
Turiaf, third in the league in blocked shots, picked up his fifth foul with 51.7 seconds left in the half and was replaced by Rob Kurz.
Battier hit his third and fourth 3-pointers in the last 38 seconds to give Houston a 62-57 lead at the break. Turiaf fouled out with 9:10 left in the third quarter, smacking Yao on a turnaround.
Nelson was ejected after protesting a foul call on Biedrins. Biedrins was whistled after fighting Luis Scola and Yao for a rebound. Assistant coach Keith Smart took over on the Warriors’ bench.
When play resumed, rookie Anthony Randolph was called for a technical foul after dunking on Yao and then saying something to the Houston center.
Houston led 88-84 after three quarters, even though all five Golden State starters were already in double figures. The Warriors opened the final quarter with a quick 9-2 run, but Yao’s three-point play with 9:44 left re-tied it at 93-all.
“We know how talented Yao is,” Smart said. “He did a good job and took advantage of us.”
Warriors G Kelenna Azubuike did not score in 5 minutes after sitting out Monday’s loss to Miami with a sprained left foot. … Artest had one steal and has at least one in 19 of 20 games this season. … The Rockets are 69-6 when they score 100 points or more at the Toyota Center. … Nelson was ejected for the first time this season. He was also thrown out of a game in Houston last season.