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Lee has strong performance in Rockets win over Warriors

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Associated Press
4/21/2012 10:44:18 PM
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HOUSTON -- Courtney Lee scored 20 points, Goran Dragic added 18 points and seven assists and the Houston Rockets snapped a six-game losing streak with a 99-96 win over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night.

Luis Scola had 13 points and Chase Budinger added 11 for the Rockets, who came into the game in the 10th spot in the Western Conference, one game behind Utah and Phoenix.

Houston went 10 for 26 from 3-point range to snap a four-game home losing streak and beat the Warriors for the 14th time in the last 16 meetings.

Klay Thompson scored 24 points and Brandon Rush added 19 for the Warriors, who have lost eight straight and 20 of their last 24.

The Warriors got within two points midway through the fourth quarter, but Lee hit two 3-pointers to help Houston close it out.

Houston is still mathematically alive for the final playoff spot in the West with games left at Miami on Sunday and New Orleans next week.

The Rockets made 14 of 26 shots in the first quarter to lead by as many as 12 points. They continued to shoot well to start the second and also controlled the boards early, after getting outrebounded in five of their previous six games.

Houston coach Kevin McHale cited poor defence as a factor in the Rockets' recent slide, and the Warriors hit several open shots in the second quarter to keep pace. Rush hit a 3 and Charles Jenkins made two free throws to draw Golden State within five.

Golden State scored the final six points of the half from the free-throw line and trailed 58-55. Rush had 13 points and Jenkins had 12 in the first half, while Scola led Houston with 11.

Mickell Gladness started the second half with a free throw and a mid-range jumper to tie it. The Rockets missed 11 of their first 14 shots out of halftime, and Mikki Moore's free throws with 4:27 left in the third quarter gave Golden State its first lead, 65-64.

Houston finished the quarter with a flurry, with Budinger and Dragic hitting consecutive 3s for a 77-71 lead. Golden State mustered only 16 points in the third quarter on 5-for-17 shooting.

Dragic and Lee hit 3-pointers in the first 90 seconds of the final quarter, and the Rockets pushed the lead to 87-77. The Warriors surged again, with Richard Jefferson hitting a running jumper and Thompson making a 3. Rush added another 3, Dominic McGuire cut inside for a layup and Houston led only 88-86 with 6 minutes left.

Lee made his third 3-pointer and Patrick Patterson banked in a jumper to put Houston up 93-86. But Patterson missed an uncontested dunk, and Rush converted a three-point play to draw Golden State closer again. Lee swished a corner 3 with 2:38 remaining, but Rush broke inside for a dunk and Thompson hit a floater to close the gap to two.

Budinger made a free throw with 1:07 remaining, and Dragic picked off a bad pass from Jefferson with 50 seconds left. Patterson tipped in a miss by Dragic with 7 seconds left to finally put it away for Houston.

Notes: Houston had a 40-36 edge in rebounds. ... The Rockets scored 13 points off 18 Golden State turnovers. ... Houston held the Warriors to eight offensive rebounds and nine second-chance points. ... Jenkins scored 16 points. ... The Warriors have lost eight straight games in Houston since December 2007.

Courtney Lee (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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