Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 11/15

Game 1: Friday, November 15th
Game 2: Wednesday, January 15th
Game 3: Wednesday, February 19th
Game 4: Sunday, March 16th

Suns 75

(34-31, 11-22 away)

Rockets 85


    7:30 PM ET, March 16, 2003

    1 2 3 4 T
    PHX 19 12 24 2075
    HOU 25 30 9 2185

    Top Performers

    Phoenix: P. Hardaway 17 Pts, 7 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl

    Houston: Y. Ming 20 Pts, 8 Reb, 3 Ast, 4 Blk

    Rockets' win gives them key series win over Suns

    HOUSTON (AP) -- Yao Ming scored 20 points as the Houston Rockets beat the Phoenix Suns 85-75 Sunday night, taking the season series 3-1 and earning the tiebreaker between the two teams jockeying for eighth place in the West.

    Houston (35-30) took a one-game lead in the standings, but the tiebreaker means the Rockets would advance even if they finish tied with the Suns (34-31).

    The Rockets improved their longest winning streak since the 1999-2000 season to five games. The Suns have lost three of four.

    Houston rode a near-perfect second quarter to a 55-27 halftime lead, then held off a rally. Led by their guard tandem of Stephon Marbury and Anfernee Hardaway, the Suns closed the third quarter with an 18-3 run to whittle Houston's lead to nine.

    Hardaway cut the Rockets' lead to 70-64 before Yao took control, scoring three of Houston's next four baskets -- including an emphatic breakaway dunk and a 17-foot baseline jump shot..

    Marbury, who led Phoenix with 19, helped the Suns keep pace, but the clock killed any comeback aspirations.

    The mood was dampened somewhat with word that Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich would miss the team's game at Seattle on Tuesday as he undergoes testing for a bladder condition. He said he expected to rejoin the Rockets as they continue a five-game West Coach swing.

    Cuttino Mobley and Glen Rice each had 13 points for Houston, and Mobley had seven assists. Hardaway scored 17 for Phoenix.

    When Mobley tied the game at 19 with a jump shot near the end of the first period, it began a 38-12 Rockets run through the rest of the half.

    Every Houston option was working. Yao worked the inside for 11 first-half points and four fouls on opposing center Jake Tsakalidis, while Glen Rice hit for 13 points, including three 3-pointers.

    Houston racked up assists on 18 of its 23 first-half buckets, spread across the lineup, with just three turnovers. The Suns had just five assists and lost the ball seven times.

    Late in the first quarter, Marbury appeared to hurt his right hand on a foul by Steve Francis. Shaking the hand at the free throw line, he didn't come close to the rim on the first try, then banked the second attempt off the top half of the backboard.

    Marbury came out of the game briefly, then returned without showing any more ill effects.

    Game notes

    Yao accepted the NBA Rookie of the Month trophy for February, his second such award this season. ... Rice's three 3-pointers give him 1,526 for his career, leaving him three behind Tim Hardaway for third-place in NBA history. ... Yao had four blocks. The Rockets improved to 19-4 in games in which the rookie blocks at least three.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 75 85
    FGM-FGA 26-78 (.333) 32-71 (.451)
    3PM-3PA 1-10 (.100) 6-14 (.429)
    FTM-FTA 22-31 (.710) 15-19 (.789)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 17-44 7-36
    Assists 11 23
    Turnovers 14 14
    Steals 6 5
    Blocks 5 7
    Fast Break Points 5 3
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 26 (0/0) 23 (0/1)

    Top Performers

    Penny Hardaway Hardaway
    Points: 17
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Yao Ming Ming
    Points: 20
    Reb: 8
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 4