LOS ANGELES (AP) – Yao Ming had 32 points and 10 rebounds, Rafer Alston added 24 points and eight assists, and the Houston Rockets snapped a three-game losing streak without Tracy McGrady in a 106-100 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.

Shaun Livingston led Los Angeles with 21 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Chris Kaman had 20 points and 11 boards, and Elton Brand chipped in with 19 points and nine rebounds.

McGrady missed his fourth straight game because of back spasms. Luther Head, making his fourth straight start in McGrady’s absence, extended his streak to 23 consecutive games with at least one 3-point basket – tying the franchise record shared by Sleepy Floyd and Matt Maloney.

Neither team led by more than five points during a 15:57 stretch, which ended when Shane Battier’s 3-pointer gave Houston a 54-46 advantage with 9:22 left in the third quarter. The Rockets continued to keep the Clippers at bay with their perimeter shooting, getting three 3-pointers from Alston and one from Head during a 5-minute span.

Trailing by 12 late in the third quarter, the Clippers got as close as 100-96 as Corey Maggette scored nine of his 19 points in a 3:51 span – including a 17-footer with 1:19 to play. But Yao responded with an eight-foot turnaround jumper, then blocked Maggette’s driving layup out of bounds with 54 seconds to go.

Cuttino Mobley hit an 18-footer and Head made one of two free throws at the other end, before Maggette’s layup cut Houston’s lead to 103-100 with 19.5 seconds left. But the Rockets clinched it at the foul line.

The Rockets have allowed 100 or more points in five consecutive games since giving up a franchise record-low 62 points to the Charlotte Bobcats on Dec. 8. The last time they had a longer streak was in February 2000, when opponents reached the century mark in seven straight contests. That stretch ended with a 96-77 win over the Clippers in Los Angeles.

AP-ES-12-17-06 1813EST


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