|Rockets win 14th straight, but can't gain ground on Southwest rivals thanks to Kidd and Paul|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 01 March 2008 01:18|
The Rockets ran their winning streak to 14 games, longest in the NBA this season, with a 116-95 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night. They improved to 2-0 since All-Star center Yao Ming's season was ended by injury, and can match the best winning streak in franchise history Sunday against Denver.
``They might run into a tough stretch of games, but there is no reason not to expect they can keep this going without Yao,'' Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni said. ``This is a very good team with a lot of weapons and they are playing at the top of their game.''
Yet the Rockets still can't move up much in the Western Conference standings. The Rockets stayed a half-game behind Dallas for third place in the Southwest Division after Kidd scored a season-high 21 points in a 115-106 victory over Sacramento.
``It was fun to watch Kidd all over the court,'' said Dirk Nowitzki, who had 34 points and 10 rebounds. ``He scored points in the post like we need him to do. He needs to become a scorer.''
Paul did everything, finishing with 24 points, 16 assists and five steals in the Hornets' 110-98 home victory over Utah. New Orleans is a half-game behind Southwest leader San Antonio and 1 1/2 games ahead of Houston.
``As long as we remain confident, we're able to come up with some big shots,'' All-Star David West said. ``Guys came in and made some big, big plays for us.''
In other games, it was: Indiana 122, Toronto 111; Atlanta 99, New York 93; Boston 108, Charlotte 100; Cleveland 92, Minnesota 84; Washington 97, Chicago 91; Miami 103, Seattle 93; Denver 110, the Los Angeles Clippers 104; Portland 119, the Los Angeles Lakers 111; and Golden State 119, Philadelphia 97.
West had 25 points and 13 rebounds for New Orleans, which built a 27-point lead in the first quarter, then withstood a late surge to beat the Jazz for the first time in three meetings this season.
As usual, the focus was on Paul and fellow star point guard Deron Williams, and Paul got the better of it this time. Williams finished with 22 points and 10 assists.
``When you play against the best, it brings out the best in you,'' Paul said.
Kidd isn't a scorer like those two, and his reluctancy to shoot was part of the reason coach Avery Johnson benched him for the final 34 seconds of a pivotal game against San Antonio the night before. But while falling one assist shy of his 100th triple-double, Kidd took 18 shots, making nine of them.
``If I didn't do it,'' he said, ``they were going to write it on a piece of paper.''
Trail Blazers 119, Lakers 111
Brandon Roy returned after missing two games with a sprained right ankle and had 20 points and 12 assists, helping Portland snap Los Angeles' 10-game winning streak.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 22 points for Portland, which also snapped the Lakers' seven-game winning streak on the road.
Kobe Bryant had 33 points for the Lakers, who have lost five straight at the Rose Garden.
Cavaliers 92, Timberwolves 84
LeBron James had 30 points and 13 assists, showing no effects after spraining his right ankle Wednesday night.
Al Jefferson led visiting Minnesota with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Corey Brewer added 15 points while Ryan Gomes scored 13.
Pacers 122, Raptors 111
Mike Dunleavy matched his career high with 36 points, Kareem Rush added 23 and Indiana beat Toronto, which lost All-Star Chris Bosh to a sore knee in the first quarter.
Andrea Bargnani had 27 points but fouled out with 1:42 remaining. Anthony Parker added 25 as host Toronto's three-game winning streak ended.
Celtics 108, Bobcats 100
Ray Allen scored 23 points and Kendrick Perkins added 19 in Boston's fourth straight victory.
Rajon Rondo had a career-high 16 assists for the Celtics.
Raymond Felton had 22 points and 10 assists for the Bobcats, who were 1-11 in February. They have lost their last five games overall and last nine on the road.
Nuggets 110, Clippers 104
At Denver, Allen Iverson scored 38 points, including two big jumpers in the final two minutes, and Carmelo Anthony added 30.
The victory was George Karl's 864th, tying him with Jack Ramsay for 10th place on the career coaching list.
Al Thornton came off the bench to tie a career high with 33 points and set a new high in rebounds with 12. Corey Maggette added 28 points, while Brevin Knight had a season-high 12 assists as the Clippers dropped their fourth straight game.
Warriors 119, 76ers 97
Brandan Wright got the hosts off to a quick start by scoring 11 of his career-high 12 points in the first quarter, and Mickael Pietrus scored a season-high 23 points for Golden State.
Andre Miller and Rodney Carney each scored 18 points for Philadelphia. The Sixers had won eight of 10 to move into playoff contention in the weak Eastern Conference.
Hawks 99, Knicks 93
Mike Bibby set up a go-ahead, alley-oop dunk by Josh Smith with 1:12 left, and Atlanta overcame a shaky start to the fourth quarter.
Bibby, playing his second home game since his trade to Atlanta, had his second straight double-double with 11 points and 10 assists. Smith had 25 points and nine rebounds, and rookie Al Horford and Joe Johnson each added 20 points.
Zach Randolph had 29 points and 17 rebounds, and Jamal Crawford added 21 points for the Knicks.
Wizards 97, Bulls 91
Antawn Jamison, Roger Mason and Andray Blatche each scored 17 points, and struggling Washington used a third-quarter surge to overcome an 18-point deficit in Chicago.
The Wizards started the third on a 22-1 run and outscored the Bulls 35-14 in the period to turn a 52-34 deficit into a 69-66 lead, a quick and stunning turnaround for a team that shot just 27.9 percent in the first half. Washington then pulled away late in the fourth to win for just the fourth time in 15 games.
Heat 103, SuperSonics 93
Dwyane Wade scored 31 points and Miami snapped a 14-game road skid with just its third victory in the last 30 games overall.
Chris Wilcox, averaging 12.6 points, had a season-high 30 points. Kevin Durant, who leads all NBA rookies with a 19.2 average, had 24 points.