Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 3)

Series starts 11/20

Game 1: Saturday, November 20th
Game 2: Sunday, December 26th
Game 3: Monday, April 18th

Clippers 90

(36-45, 9-31 away)

Rockets 115

(50-31, 25-15 home)

    Coverage: FSSW

    7:30 PM ET, April 18, 2005

    Toyota Center, Houston, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    LAC 31 18 26 1590
    HOU 40 30 22 23115

    Top Performers

    LAC: E. Brand 36 Pts, 6 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Blk

    Hou: Y. Ming 24 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Blk

    T-Mac becomes 4th Rocket to score 2,000 in a season

    HOUSTON (AP) -- The Houston Rockets are on a roll. And they hope it continues into the playoffs.

    Strong inside play from Yao Ming and some hot 3-point shooting led Houston to its sixth straight victory and its 50th win of the season Monday night, 115-90 over the Los Angeles Clippers.

    The Rockets clinched fifth place in the Western Conference and will face Dallas in the first round of the playoffs.

    Yao had 24 points and Tracy McGrady added 16 points and 10 assists for the Rockets who had their first 50-win season since 1996-97.

    "The passion we've been playing with the last three games has really been good," Rockets guard David Wesley said. "When we play as good as we can, it's good enough to beat most teams."

    The Rockets scored a season-high 40 points in the first quarter on 76 percent shooting (16-of-21), including 5-of-6 from 3-point range. Wesley, who was 4-of-4 in the quarter with two 3s, finished with 13 points and five assists.

    Bob Sura and Scott Padgett each had 15 points for Houston and combined for eight 3-pointers. Mike James added 11 points.

    "We ran into a team that was very hot and shot the ball very well," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "Yao got too deep on us and he'll score on anybody in that position."

    Yao was 10-of-14 from the field and 4-of-4 from the free throw line.

    The Rockets lost three straight before starting their current win streak.

    "We went through our little slump as a team," James said. "I think it was good we went through it when we did because now we're playing our best. The ball's going in and we're playing with confidence."

    The Clippers, who trailed by as many as 29 points, cut the lead to 70-57 midway through the third quarter, but could get no closer. A minute later the lead was back to 20 after a free throw by Wesley and two 3s by Sura.

    Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy was worried about Houston's lack of intensity early in the second half.

    "We looked disinterested to start the third quarter," he said. "That starting group, for whatever reason, is giving us a lot of sub-par play either to start games or to start third quarters and that's of great concern.

    "Attention spans can wander through the season but if you have any desire to achieve, you don't let them."

    Elton Brand scored a season-high 36 points for the Clippers, who were 1-of-6 on 3-pointers and were outrebounded 39-28.

    The Rockets (50-31) host Seattle on Wednesday to close the regular season.

    Houston split the season series with Dallas, but one of the Rockets' wins came with both Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Finley on the bench.

    "We've still got to improve," McGrady said. "The playoffs are definitely going to be a different ballgame. Although we're winning by a large margin, we've got to keep it up."

    The Clippers fell to 9-31 on the road.

    Game notes

    Clippers C Chris Kaman missed a second straight game because of a sore lower back. ... Clippers F Zeljko Rebraca (sprained left ankle) also sat out. ... McGrady joined Elvin Hayes, Moses Malone and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only Rockets to score 2,000 points in a season. He's the only non-center in the group. ... The Rockets' 70 points in the first half was their highest first half total since 2000. ... The Clippers' 28 rebounds was a season-low for a Houston opponent. ...Monday marked the first time the Rockets won consecutive games by 25 or more points since March 2000.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 90 115
    FGM-FGA 35-73 (.479) 40-76 (.526)
    3PM-3PA 1-6 (.167) 13-26 (.500)
    FTM-FTA 19-25 (.760) 22-24 (.917)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 7-28 10-39
    Assists 21 28
    Turnovers 11 15
    Steals 9 7
    Blocks 3 3
    Fast Break Points 8 5
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (3/0) 21 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 4 29

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Elton Brand Brand
    Points: 36
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 1
    Yao Ming Ming
    Points: 24
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 0
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 2