HOUSTON (AP) -- After a brief stretch of success, the Houston
Rockets have regressed -- especially on defense.
After beating Dallas and San Antonio with strong defense during
a four-game win streak from Jan. 9 to Jan. 16, the Rockets allowed
Memphis and Indiana to hit better than 50 percent from the field in
losses Monday and Tuesday.
"It's crazy how we play great defense against Dallas and San
Antonio, then come out and play the way we have the last two
nights," said Tracy McGrady, who had 28 points. "I think we need
a little bit more pride. We don't feel too good about ourselves
right now. We have to keep digging and take individual pride in
ourselves on defense."
The 10-0 run came after a 63-63 tie with 9:31 to play, and the
Pacers led by at least six the rest of the way.
Yao Ming added 21 points for the Rockets.
Houston had six turnovers the first six minutes of the game and
fell behind 12-5. O'Neal scored nine straight points in one stretch
as the Pacers widened the lead to 19-9. They settled for a 21-13
advantage after one quarter as O'Neal had 13 points.
Tinsley took over the offense in the second quarter, scoring the
Pacers' first 10 points. He and O'Neal each had 15 at the half as
Indiana led 42-38.
Late in the third quarter, Houston went on a 9-0 run, the first
seven points all on free throws, to tie it at 57 with 1:43 left in
the period. O'Neal hit a 20-footer at the buzzer to give Indiana a
61-59 lead after three.
Tinsley went 5-for-6 on 3-pointers to help make up for the lack
of a consistent outside scoring threat -- a deficiency that will be
erased when Stephen Jackson returns next week after serving a
"We just want to continue to get better, be competitive and be
in the running for the division championship when we get everybody
back," O'Neal said. "We have to play the cards that were dealt
"Jamaal does a lot to keep defenses balanced. He's one of the
best in the game at making plays and getting his shots off. It's
coming. We're not where we want to be. We've been sidetracked a bit
but we still feel we can compete for a championship when we get our
Houston shot just 1-of-13 on 3-point shots, a season low, while
Indiana was 8-of-12.
"Neither team played their best," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle
said. "But we were able to keep ahead despite our turnovers. We
hit our 3s, either to keep us even or give us the lead. I think we
hit eight 3s and they hit one. That was the difference."
The Rockets played without forward Maurice Taylor, who was
placed on the injured list with the flu. ... It was Rockets Go
Retro night, and the team wore the red and gold uniforms from the
1971-72 season, the team's first in Houston. ... The Rockets
activated forward Clarence Weatherspoon, who had been on the
injured list since Jan. 2 with a right calf strain. ... After
losing at Memphis on Monday, Houston is 5-4 on the first night of
back-to-backs and 4-5 on the second nights.