Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 12/15

Game 1: Thursday, December 15th
Game 2: Friday, February 3rd
Game 3: Wednesday, March 29th
Game 4: Tuesday, April 4th

SuperSonics 87

(29-42, 11-25 away)

Rockets 115

(31-40, 14-23 home)

    Coverage: FSSW

    7:30 PM ET, March 29, 2006

    Toyota Center, Houston, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    SEA 10 22 30 2587
    HOU 29 35 27 24115

    Top Performers

    Sea: E. Watson 20 Pts, 1 Reb, 4 Ast

    Hou: Y. Ming 29 Pts, 10 Reb, 5 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk

    Yao, Rockets lower boom on SuperSonics

    HOUSTON (AP) -- The Houston Rockets put together one of their best performances of the season, too late to matter for a team out of playoff contention.

    Yao Ming had 29 points and 10 rebounds, and the Rockets routed the Seattle SuperSonics 115-87 on Wednesday night.

    Stromile Swift and newly acquired Richie Frahm had 16 points apiece for the Rockets, who shot 52 percent (42-of-81) and outrebounded Seattle 46-32 to snap a five-game home losing streak. Frahm, a second-year guard, was claimed off waivers on March 20 and went 4-for-8 from 3-point range.

    Yao also matched a career high with three steals.

    "We were really guarding people," said Yao, who also blocked a shot. "Our individual defense and our team defense were the difference. We did that well from the start of the game."

    The Rockets coupled their smothering defense with good shooting and started the blowout immediately. They scored the first nine points, led 18-4 and built a 29-10 lead by the end of the first quarter.

    "I think this inspires us to go out there and finish up strong and really not give it up," Swift said.

    The Sonics, meanwhile, looked exhausted the night after a 98-97 win in Memphis. They missed 18 of their first 21 shots, and their 10 points in the first quarter was a low for any period this season. It was also a low for a Houston opponent in a first quarter this season.

    "Last night was as good a win as we've had," said Seattle coach Bob Hill, "but tonight we just weren't there."

    Leading scorer Ray Allen missed his first nine shots and was 1-for-12 at halftime. He finished 1-for-13 and had 10 points.

    "They jumped out on us and we really didn't adjust to anything," Allen said. "Offensively, we didn't have anything going and that seemed to feed them offensively."

    Earl Watson scored 20 to lead Seattle, which had won six of its previous 10. But the Sonics were never in this one and before it was over, Hill told his team to treat it like a practice.

    "We decided, there at the end, to just use it to work on some things," Hill said. "So we got some good out of it."

    The Rockets led 64-32 at the break, their highest-scoring first half of the season. The Sonics matched a season low in a first half after going 9-for-40.

    Houston was even getting the bounces, a rarity in its disappointing season. Early in the second quarter, Swift threw up a hook shot from the baseline that caromed off the top of the backboard and plopped straight down into the basket.

    "It was one of those nights," Swift said after the game with a sheepish grin.

    The Rockets shot 63 percent in the opening half (24-of-38). They also had balance -- Yao had only 12 at halftime and five of his teammates had at least eight points.

    Seattle nearly doubled its field goals in the third quarter, going 8-for-18 and scoring 30 points. Yao kept the Rockets in command, scoring 17 points in the quarter. He sat out the fourth quarter as Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy let mostly reserves play.

    "We may not have as much firepower as some teams," Van Gundy said, "but our team, for the most part, comes ready to play, ready to practice."

    The Rockets had 100 points with nearly 9 minutes remaining and finished with their highest point total at the Toyota Center all season.

    "You always envision a night like that, where you come out and hit on all cylinders," said Houston guard Rafer Alston, who had 10 points and eight assists.

    Despite the second-half improvement, Seattle shot 24-of-71 (34 percent), its third-worst percentage of the season.

    "We were just blown out," Watson said. "They controlled the game from the start and all the way through."

    Game notes

    Houston has won six in a row against Seattle. ... Referee Tim Donaghy called a foul on Johan Petro on the opening tip -- 1 second into the game -- for bumping Yao on the jump. ...The Rockets never trailed in a game for the first time since a 116-98 win over Denver on Jan. 9, 2005. ... Yao had five assists, tying a season high. ...The Sonics played without second-leading scorer Rashard Lewis, who sprained his ankle in Tuesday's game. Hill said Lewis was "day-to-day" and was questionable for Friday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 87 115
    FGM-FGA 24-71 (.338) 42-81 (.519)
    3PM-3PA 6-18 (.333) 7-19 (.368)
    FTM-FTA 33-40 (.825) 24-27 (.889)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-32 12-46
    Assists 14 27
    Turnovers 20 14
    Steals 6 13
    Blocks 2 2
    Fast Break Points 10 13
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 26 (0/0) 27 (2/1)
    Largest Lead 0 40

    Top Performers

    Earl Watson Watson
    Points: 20
    Reb: 1
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    Yao Ming Ming
    Points: 29
    Reb: 10
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 1