Rockets 102, Pacers 99

The Houston Rockets expect to be without Yao Ming for at least

another week.

If they play as they did Friday, that time will be a lot more

bearable.

Brad Miller and Luis Scola made up for the absence of the

All-Star center, and the Rockets held off the Indiana Pacers for a

102-99 victory.

Three of the Rockets’ six losses this season had come by four or

fewer points, with one coming in overtime.

”It was big for us to finally win one of these games,” said

Miller, who scored seven of his 14 second-half points during the

Rockets’ game-clinching, 18-8 fourth-quarter run.

”Our six losses have been a lot like this. We’ve had the lead

with five minutes to go, or three minutes to go. It’s just figuring

out how to win one. All of our games have been similar, we just

finally did the right things at the end.”

Miller had 23 points and eight rebounds, while Scola added 16

points.

Yao, who sustained a sprained left ankle in the Rockets’ loss to

Washington on Wednesday, is expected to miss at least a week, the

team announced Thursday. He returned to Houston from Indianapolis

to begin rehabilitation.

”We can’t worry about who isn’t here,” Rockets coach Rick

Adelman said. ”We’ve gone without Yao for a year and a half.”

Kevin Martin had two key baskets down the stretch and scored 20

points. Kyle Lowry added 13 for the Rockets, who shot 50 percent

from the field and improved to 2-6.

”They’re a very talented team,” Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said.

”They’re used to playing without Yao. I think it’s fools’ gold if

somebody is out of the game (to think) you have an edge.”

James Posey led Indiana with 19 points, with Roy Hibbert scoring

18 and Danny Granger 17. Mike Dunleavy had 15 points and Darren

Collison had 13 for Indiana.

”We couldn’t get stops when we needed to,” Dunleavy said. ”We

let them get away and we just couldn’t keep up with them. We never

got into our tempo or our rhythm. We had a lot of breakdowns on

both sides of the ball.”

The Pacers, after shooting 64.4 percent in a victory over Denver

on Tuesday – including 20 of 21 in the third quarter while scoring

a franchise-record 54 points – didn’t start or finish as hot on

Friday. Indiana shot 45 percent.

Indiana trailed 73-63 with four minutes in the third period, but

rallied to tie it at 78 after three quarters on Posey’s 3-pointer

with 10.5 seconds remaining. Indiana made 5-of-6 3-pointers during

the tying run, which spanned the final 3:32 of the third

quarter.

Martin’s 3-pointer gave Houston a 97-93 lead with 3 minutes

remaining, and his 15-footer from the baseline with a minute to go

gave Houston a 102-97 lead.

”We needed that confidence just because of how we’ve been in

every game and not been able to pull them off,” Martin said.

”Tonight we just played together and the right way down the

stretch. I think we really just buckled down and said, ‘We’re going

to close this one out.’

”It kind of just came from within. Coach talked about mental

toughness and that’s what we had tonight.”

Indiana had a final chance to tie, but Collison’s 3-point

attempt with 3 seconds remaining bounced off the rim.