Houston. The Rockets forced LeBron James to go without an assist for the first time in his career on Thursday, and limited the Cavaliers to their lowest score of the season, and Houston piled on the points and defeated Cleveland 93-74.
Yao Ming scored 28 points for Houston and Ron Artest added 15 while harassing James on defense most of the night, leading the Rockets to their sixth consecutive victory and ninth straight at home.
“Yao was a handful for us,” Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. “We tried to mix up coverages, but everything we threw at him he seemed to convert. Yao was awesome.”
James scored 21 points, but went just 7-for-21 from the field with three turnovers.
It was the first time in 493 NBA games that King James failed to record an assist.
“We just can’t seem to get in a good flow against this team,” James said. “A lot of credit has to go to them. Their defense keeps you on the perimeter. Defensively, we played really well. Offensively, we couldn’t make a shot and we could never get in any rhythm.”
The Cavaliers had season-low point totals in the first (11) and third (10) quarters, and their 34 percent shooting (27-for-80) was also a season worst.
The defeat ended the Cavs’ five-game winning streak.
They also may have lost forward Ben Wallace, who left in the third quarter with a broken right leg.
Houston had 25 assists, its sixth straight game with 20 or more, and went 8-for-19 from 3-point range.
In Los Angeles, the Lakers scored 70 points in the first half and rolled past the Suns —who weer without star point guard Steve Nash — for their sixth consecutive victory.
Kobe Bryant had 22 points and eight rebounds for the league-leading Lakers, while former teammate Shaquille O’Neal had 12 points and seven rebounds for the Suns, who trail first-place Los Angeles by 15 games in the Pacific Division.
O’Neal was warmly received by the crowd at Staples Center, where the Lakers improved to 27-4 and have won four in a row.