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Rockets down Hornets 95-84

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[March 17, 2009]  NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Ron Artest scored all of his 18 points in the second half, and the Houston Rockets overcame the absence of center Yao Ming in a 95-84 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Monday night.

Luis Scola and Aaron Brooks each scored 14 points, and Scola had 12 rebounds to help the Rockets end New Orleans' five-game home winning streak.

Chris Paul had 29 points and 11 assists, while David West had 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Hornets, who've lost two straight.

Yao sat out with flu-like symptoms and Dikembe Mutombo started in his place.

Carl Landry and Von Wafer each scored 12 points and Shane Battier 11 as the Rockets, holding on to the third seed in the Western Conference, prevented the Hornets from passing them in the standings.

The Hornets appeared to be taking control of the game early in the second half, when alley-oop dunks by Julian Wright and Tyson Chandler highlighted an 8-0 Hornets run to give New Orleans a 55-44 lead. Houston coach Rick Adelman quickly called timeout, and the Rockets returned in far better form.


Artest, who'd missed his first 11 field goals, got his first points on free throws, then made his next four shots and added an assist on Scola's driving scoop during a 16-2 spurt that put Houston ahead 62-59.

New Orleans got only five points the rest of the quarter, all from Paul, whose floater as he was fouled cut Houston's lead to 67-64 heading into the final period.

James Posey's 3 to open the fourth quarter tied the game, and the Hornets led 75-73 on Posey's baseline drive with 7:01 to go.

Houston responded with an 8-0 run during which Landry swatted away Paul's floater and later hit two free throws. Artest also scored during the surge.

After West's jumper briefly stopped to run, Artest scored again on a driving layup and Landry dunked on a fast break to make it 85-77 with 3:47 left. The Hornets were stagnant after that, and Chandler fouled out while battling Landry for a rebound with 1:18 to go.

Despite the absence of Yao, Houston finished with a 38-37 edge in rebounding. Mutombo scored only one point but had six rebounds and blocked Wright three times on drives to the hoop, wagging his finger every time.

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Houston used a 14-3 run, highlighted by Landry's two dunks, to take a 34-26 lead early in the second quarter, mostly with Paul on the bench. Houston was shooting better than 54 percent when Brent Barry's fade off the glass gave the Rockets a 39-31 lead, and New Orleans trailed 41-33 when Paul returned with a little under seven minutes left in the second quarter.

The Hornets immediately pulled back ahead as Paul scored eight points, six on free throws, during an 10-0 run.

The Rockets went about 6:30 without a field goal during that spurt, which Houston finally snapped on Scola's short jumper to tie the game at 43. Paul, who had 10 points in the second quarter, added a fadeaway in the final seconds to give New Orleans a 47-44 lead at halftime.

Notes: West was called for a technical foul late in the third quarter for gesturing condescendingly at an official after he was called for a foul. ... The Hornets and Rockets split their previous two meetings, with the home team winning each time. ... Hornets shooting guard Rasual Butler had 11 points and has scored in double figures in 10 straight games. ... Houston improved to 17-17 on the road. ... Attendance was 17,723, the Hornets' 16th sellout this season.

[Associated Press; By BRETT MARTEL]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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