NEW YORK (AP) – Yao Ming had 26 points and nine rebounds in another strong game against the Knicks, and Tracy McGrady added 24 points in the Houston Rockets’ 97-90 victory over New York on Monday night.

Rafter Alston finished with 17 points for the Rockets, who beat the Knicks for the fifth straight time, their longest winning streak ever during the series. Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy improved to 7-1 against his former team.

The Knicks did a better job on Yao than last time, when he collected 35 points, 17 rebounds and seven blocked shots in the Rockets’ 104-93 victory in Houston on Nov. 10. The 7-foot-6 Yao was only 6-of-14 from the floor – with one miss coming when 5-foot-9 Nate Robinson blocked him in the closing seconds of the third quarter.

But he had plenty of help from McGrady, who scored 15 in the second half, including six during a decisive 10-1 surge in the fourth quarter. He also made three of Houston’s 10 3-pointers.

The Rockets have won four straight at Madison Square Garden – all since Van Gundy became Houston coach.

Then again, just about everybody wins at the Garden these days – except the Knicks. New York fell to 1-5 at home despite 25 points from Jamal Crawford and 22 from Channing Frye.

AP-ES-11-20-06 2206EST

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