- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2009

HOUSTON (AP) - Yao Ming scored 31 points and Ron Artest added 26 to lead the Houston Rockets to a 106-101 double-overtime win over the undermanned Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.

Aaron Brooks scored seven of his 14 points in the extra periods, helping the Rockets stay in third place in the Western Conference standings.

Arron Afflalo scored 24 points, Rodney Stuckey added 21 points with 10 assists and Antonio McDyess grabbed 20 rebounds for the Pistons, who played without Richard Hamilton (groin), Allen Iverson (back) and Rasheed Wallace (calf strain).

The Rockets have won 13 of their last 15 home games. The Pistons have lost three straight overall.

The Rockets opened the second overtime with a 10-0 run. Brooks started the spurt with a 3-pointer, Artest drove for two layups and Yao hit a mid-range turnaround.

Afflalo sank a 3-pointer to end Detroit’s drought and Herrmann hit a free throw to pull the Pistons within six. After Artest missed a 3, Herrmann hit a 3 for Detroit with 28 seconds to go, cutting Houston’s lead to 102-99.

Brooks went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line on the Rockets’ next two possessions to finally secure the victory.

Yao scored on four straight possessions to give Houston an 82-79 lead with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Pistons grabbed two offensive rebounds on their next possession, and Stuckey hit a running shot in the lane to cut the Rockets’ lead to one. Artest missed a long jumper, Stuckey’s free throw with 56 seconds left tied the game at 82.

Scola lost the ball on a drive, and Walter Herrmann rimmed out a 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime.

The Rockets built an 88-85 lead in the extra period before Stuckey sank two free throws with 1:29 left. Yao hit two free throws on Houston’s next trip, but Stuckey’s driving layup with 26 seconds left cut Houston’s lead to 90-89.

Kyle Lowry made a free throw before Stuckey easily drove for another layup to tie it at 91. Artest missed an off-balance jumper as time expired in the first overtime.

The Rockets led 42-38 at halftime after shooting 50 percent (20 of 40) in the first half.

Detroit shot 31 percent (14 of 45) in the first half, but stayed close by going 9-for-12 from the free-throw line. The Rockets took only two free throws in the half and went 1-for-6 from 3-point range.

The Pistons rallied from five points down to take the lead in the third quarter. Afflalo sank a 3-pointer, McDyess scored twice inside and Detroit shot 58 percent in the quarter to take a 65-64 lead to the fourth.

Will Bynum drove past Kyle Lowry for two layups in the first minute to stretch Detroit’s lead to five, its biggest of the game. Detroit led 79-75 in the fourth quarter before Yao took over inside.

Notes:@ The Rockets are 2-1 in overtime this season; Detroit dropped to 2-4. … Detroit grabbed 21 offensive rebounds and its 26 second-chance points were a season high for a Houston opponent. … Detroit coach Michael Curry said Iverson would have tests on his back on Thursday and Friday. Curry said Wallace was also likely to miss Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

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