Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 1/3

Game 1: Tuesday, January 3rd
Game 2: Friday, March 31st

Wizards 103

(37-34, 13-21 away)

Rockets 105

(32-40, 15-23 home)

    Coverage: FSSW

    7:30 PM ET, March 31, 2006

    Toyota Center, Houston, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    WSH 28 22 24 29103
    HOU 30 32 21 22105

    Top Performers

    WSH: G. Arenas 27 Pts, 1 Reb, 11 Ast, 4 Stl

    Hou: Y. Ming 38 Pts, 11 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Blk

    Rockets edge Wizards behind Yao's season-high 38

    HOUSTON (AP) -- Yao Ming had more room to work than usual Friday night.

    And the Houston Rockets center took advantage of it as he matched his season high with 38 points to lead the Houston Rockets to a 105-103 victory over the Washington Wizards.

    Yao, who had 11 rebounds and recorded his 30th double-double of the season, couldn't believe the Wizards played only one man on him most of the night.

    "I was pretty surprised that a lot of times they didn't double-team me," he said. "I was rushing things early in the game and expecting them to double me.

    "After that, I was trying to read the defense and when I saw that nobody was coming, I took my time. I liked that. I hope every night they do that."

    Coach Jeff Van Gundy thought his team's 3-point shooting early helped form the Wizards strategy. The Rockets hit four 3s in the first quarter and Luther Head, who hit two behind the arc, had 13 points as Houston took a 30-28 lead after one quarter.

    "That's a bit atypical (for Yao to not be frequently doubled)," Van Gundy said. "But it also goes to our shooting. When you make a couple of 3s early, a team is not as likely to go at Yao as hard."

    Head noticed the Wizards' strategy early.

    "When they didn't double him, we tried to get the ball to him as much as we could," said Head, who finished with 20 points. "We try to get him the ball anyway, but it was a benefit when they're not doubling him."

    The Wizards, who got 28 points from Antawn Jamison and 27 from Gilbert Arenas, still took the game down to a final 3-point attempt that Jamison missed at the buzzer.

    "I thought we had a good look. It was too bad it didn't go in," said coach Eddie Jordan, who also lamented the fact 7-foot center Brendan Haywood missed his second straight game with lower back pain. "We did the best we could with Yao with the small lineup we played with. We made Yao miss some shots and I was proud of our team."

    Jamison thought he had a game-winner with his final shot.

    "I don't know, but that one felt good and earlier those that didn't feel good went in," he said. "It felt good, but it didn't go down and sometimes that's the way things go, but I had an opportunity to win it.

    "This is a game when Brendan would have helped. The big guy (Yao) earned his check and he put his team on his back and carried them. I've seen him do some good things, but with that soft touch, he is unbelievable. The guy is playing phenomenal."

    Jamison had five points in a 10-0 Washington run early in the fourth quarter that pulled the Wizards to within 87-86 with 8:22 remaining.

    But Yao scored eight in an 11-2 Rockets run that opened a 98-88 advantage with 4:21 to play.

    Arenas then scored eight in an 11-4 Wizards run to pull to within 102-101 with 1:15 remaining. Yao hit a turnaround jumper to extend the lead to three. Jared Jeffries responded with a layup to close the gap to 104-103 with 16 seconds left.

    Rafer Alston was then fouled and made only one of two free throws. After Washington called timeout, Jamison missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

    With the Wizards' loss, the Miami Heat clinched the Southeast Division.

    Yao had eight points and Head seven in the third quarter when Houston led by as many as 15. Yao helped the Rockets build a 62-50 halftime lead scoring 14 points in the second quarter.

    After trailing 12-5 in the early minutes, Houston outscored the Wizards 19-6 over a five-minute span to take a 24-18 with 3:24 left in the first quarter. Head was good on 5-of-6 shooting as the Rockets led 30-28 after one quarter.

    Game notes

    Washington has lost four straight in Houston. The Wizards last win here was Dec. 6, 2001. ... Washington, which had won two in a row on the road coming into the game, has not won three straight on the road this season. ... Arenas, who missed the game at Sacramento on Tuesday with flu-like symptoms, has 11 assists for his eighth double-double and eighth 10-plus assist game of the season. ... It was Yao's eighth 30-point game of the season.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 103 105
    FGM-FGA 39-86 (.453) 39-70 (.557)
    3PM-3PA 9-28 (.321) 6-13 (.462)
    FTM-FTA 16-21 (.762) 21-29 (.724)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-37 5-38
    Assists 23 20
    Turnovers 10 17
    Steals 8 3
    Blocks 4 3
    Fast Break Points 10 9
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 21 (0/0) 20 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 7 15

    Top Performers

    Gilbert Arenas Arenas
    Points: 27
    Reb: 1
    Ast: 11
    Stl: 4
    Blk: 0
    Yao Ming Ming
    Points: 38
    Reb: 11
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 2