<
>

Rockets, without McGrady, dominate Spurs on the road

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- The Houston Rockets hope Friday night was the
start of a new era against the San Antonio Spurs.

Yao Ming scored 22 points and the Rockets beat the Spurs 97-78
for their first victory in San Antonio in over nine years.

San Antonio had won 17 straight home games against the Rockets
and seven in a row in the series overall. Houston's last road win
against the Spurs was a 103-94 decision on April 20, 1997.

Bonzi Wells scored a season-high 15 points, Juwan Howard added
14 and Rafer Alston finished with 12 for the Rockets. Luther Head
had a career-high 11 assists.

"I don't think too many people gave us a shot coming in
tonight," said Shane Battier, who finished with 10 points.
"Especially after our last game in Portland when we played
poorly."

Manu Ginobili had 23 points for the Spurs, who finished with a
season-low point total. Tony Parker followed with 21 and Tim Duncan
had 14 points and 11 rebounds.

"My teammates did a great job, a huge job in the second half,"
Yao said. "They showed a lot of energy. They put the life into the
game."

Parker said his team did just the opposite.

"We were definitely flat, had no energy," he said. "And they
just came out very strong, played more physical and made shots."

San Antonio, which had the lead for just 18 seconds in the first
quarter, shot 29-for-72 (40 percent) from the field. Houston hit
38-of-74 (51 percent).

Yao's performance wasn't on par with his recent games, the last
four of which he scored more than 30 points, but he did enough to
lead the Rockets. He scored 14 of his 22 points in the first
quarter but had four fouls about midway through the third.

He sat out the rest of the period and played just about 4
minutes in the final quarter, when he picked up his fifth foul.

The Rockets will get a chance at two wins in a row in San
Antonio when they play the Spurs on Jan. 24.

"I really don't know about the streak. I'm not a historian on
the record around here," Wells said. "I just know we needed this
win for our team and our confidence.

"We wanted to finish the game and I think we did a good job."

The Rockets took a 30-21 lead into the second quarter, with Yao
scoring 14 points in the first. They extended the advantage with an
8-0 run in the second. The Spurs missed five straight shots during
the second-quarter surge.

San Antonio scored a season-low 15 points in the second period
and Houston led 53-36 at halftime.

At the end of the third period a visibly angry Duncan was given
a technical for complaining about his third foul in the quarter.
The Rockets led 74-59 after three.

The Rockets were again without Tracy McGrady, who has missed six
games because of back spasms. The Rockets are 2-4 without him in
the lineup.

Game notes
The Rockets ended their five-game trip 2-3. ... Houston
hosts the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday; the Spurs take on the
Hornets in New Orleans. ... The Rockets improved to 16-10 Friday;
the Spurs fell to 20-7. ... Friday's loss ended a five-game winning
streak for San Antonio.