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Yao, Artest continue Warriors' road woes

HOUSTON -- This is about when and how the Houston Rockets started their 22-game winning streak last season. Right now, they're thinking more about steady improvement than getting on another run like that.

Yao Ming had 25 points and 11 rebounds, Ron Artest scored 27 and the Rockets beat the Golden State Warriors 110-93 Saturday night.

Aaron Brooks had 22 points and nine assists, both career highs, and Carl Landry added 17 points and eight rebounds for the Rockets, who played without Tracy McGrady after he sprained his left ankle in practice on Friday.

Corey Maggette scored 17 and Stephen Jackson added 16 for the Warriors, who've lost nine of their last 10 road games.

Houston was 24-20 and beat Golden State on Jan. 29, the first of 22 straight victories. The Rockets have been looking for consistency all of this season and hope that Saturday's win is a step in the right direction.

"Hopefully, this is a sign of something," said Artest, who started for McGrady. "Hopefully, this game is where it turns around and we can just get on a streak here."

The upcoming schedule is favorable -- Houston plays eight of its next 10 games at home and faces only three teams with winning records in that span.

"We just need to start playing well," said Brooks, who played 43 minutes, one shy of a season high. "It's a good start. We've got a lot of work to do still, but we want to try to keep it rolling."

The Rockets led 81-75 after three quarters, then pulled away after Golden State missed six of its first eight shots in the fourth.

Houston coach Rick Adelman let Brooks, the backup point guard, finish the game after starter Rafer Alston went 1-for-8 from the field over the first three quarters.

"He was really playing aggressive," Adelman said, "and that's what he's got to do. He gives us energy off the bench. I like the way he was playing. I just wanted to see him finish. We need to get him going."

The Warriors failed to reach 100 points for the third straight game after 14 straight games with 100 or more.

"We didn't have enough juice, but we hung in there," Golden State coach Don Nelson said. "If we could've made a couple of shots in the fourth quarter and cut it down to six, we might have won."

The Rockets shot 38 percent in the first quarter, but led 25-20 thanks to five offensive rebounds. Yao was out to start the second quarter, but Landry scored twice inside to stretch Houston's lead to nine. C.J. Watson's 3-pointer from the corner with 9:46 left in the half ended a three-minute scoring drought for the Warriors.

Jackson drove for a two-handed dunk with 6:24 left in the half, but he hung onto the rim for an extra second and was called for a technical foul. Andris Biedrins complained about a whistle on Houston's next trip and got a technical foul from Joey Crawford. Brooks made both free throws to put Houston up 41-32.

Watson sank a half-court shot just before halftime to cut Houston's lead to 53-51. Jackson opened the third quarter with a swish from the top of the key to tie the game. Biedrins picked up his fifth foul on the Rockets' first possession out of the break and went to the bench.

Houston took the lead for good late in the third quarter, with Brooks driving for a layup and drawing Ronny Turiaf's fifth foul. Brooks sank the free throw for a 79-71 Rockets lead.

Artest scored 12 points in the third quarter and Houston led 81-75. Von Wafer sank his first 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter to push the lead to nine.

The Rockets blew a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter against Philadelphia on Wednesday night, but outscored the Warriors 29-18 in the final quarter of this one.

"That is when we should play our best quarter of the game," Yao said. "We kept our intensity, especially our defensive intensity."

Game notes
Turiaf started for Kelenna Azubuike, who sat out with tendinitis in his left knee. ... Adelman said McGrady was "day to day." The Rockets next play Chicago on Tuesday. "There's nothing on the X-rays, so it's going to be a day-to-day situation, I guess," Adelman said. ... Artest went 4-for-6 from 3-point range.