Wed. Final: Rockets 85, Bucks 81
Next game: Friday, January 2nd vs. Charlotte
HOUSTON (AP) -- Yao Ming had 22 points and 10 rebounds, Luis Scola added 11 points and 10 boards, and the Houston Rockets beat the Milwaukee Bucks 85-81 on Wednesday night.
Ron Artest had 15 points and reserve Carl Landry added 14 as the Rockets beat the Bucks for the eighth straight time, bouncing back from an embarrassing loss to Washington on Monday.
Michael Redd scored 20, Richard Jefferson had 16 and Luke Ridnour dished out 11 assists for the Bucks, who've lost nine consecutive games in Houston.
The Rockets led by as many as 15 in the first half, but turned stagnant on offense in the second to let the Bucks get back in it.
Ridnour missed a 3-point attempt with 25 seconds left, 6-foot Aaron Brooks grabbed the rebound and tacked on two free throws to finally put the game out of reach for Houston.
The Rockets went 4-for-19 from 3-point range (21 percent) and 30-of-73 overall from the field (41 percent).
Yao picked up his second foul with 4:53 left in the first quarter and was replaced by Landry. Redd's two free throws put the Bucks up 17-16, but the Rockets answered with an 11-2 run with Yao on the bench to take a 27-19 lead.
Yao returned with 10:08 left in the half and found Brooks for a layup. Landry converted a three-point play with 8:37 left in the half to push the Rockets' lead to 34-24.
The Bucks gave away six turnovers in the first seven minutes of the second quarter. Andrew Bogut got his third foul pushing Yao with 3:16 left in the half and was replaced by Dan Gadzuric. Yao hit one free throw to put Houston up 45-30.
Houston led 47-36 at the break after Milwaukee mustered only 14 points in the second quarter on 5-for-14 shooting. But the Rockets coughed up five turnovers in the first five minutes of the third quarter, and the Bucks mounted a 12-2 run to cut the deficit to 49-48.
Yao got his fourth foul three minutes later and Landry replaced him again. The Rockets promptly missed perimeter shots on four straight possessions, before McGrady's 3-pointer in the final minute of the quarter put them up 63-58.
Houston opened the final quarter with a 7-1 burst, highlighted by Landry's putback dunk with 9:05 left, to stretch the lead back to double digits. The Bucks responded with an 11-2 spurt to pull within two heading into the final four minutes.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)