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January 23, 2008 6:33 PM

Houston game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

PUTZ IN THE HOUSE --- Mariners pitcher J.J. Putz is tossing t-shirts in the stands. He was prompted, but the big righty didn't try to throw one in the second level.

GOOD SIGN --- The Sonics have the lead (83-78) going into the fourth. The Rockets aren't going to give up though. They're feeding Yao in the post and McGrady is taking over from the outside. The duo has combined to score Houstons' last 19 points.

CRITICAL TIME --- The Supes are up 73-61 and they need to keep the lead if they're win this game. They're 9-3 when leading after three quarters and 0-29 when trailing.

HALFTIME --- Seattle leads 59-50.

NICE SPURT --- Seattle started the quarter with nine unanswered points to pull ahead 34-24. Szczerbiak scored five points.

FIRST QUARTER --- The Sonics lead 25-24. Yao has 10 points to lead all scorers and Durant has eight. Watson has six points and three assists. Good period for the Supes, although they still have no answer for Yao. Funny moment was Ridnour throwing an alley-oop to Wally Szczerbia that wasn't close to connecting.

BROOKS CHECKS IN --- With 2:05 remaining in the first quarter, former Franklin High standout Aaron Brooks entered the game. He knocked down a three-pointer in the corner over Luke Ridnour with at the 1:35 mark. Brooks, playing in his first NBA game at home, bought about 100 tickets for family and friends.

YAO CONTINGENCY --- Everywhere the Rockets center plays, he draws a big crowd and Seattle is no different. Still there's plenty of empty seats here tonight. Despite the size, it's a rowdy crowd.

THOMAS WILL RETURN --- He left with a bloody nose, but it won't keep him out of the game.

MID-SEASON EVALUATIONS --- Carlesimo said he'll do more instructing on shot selection now that the Supes have reached the midpoint of the season and the team has a long homestand. They play 13 of the next 17 games at home, including tongiht's contest.

WEEZY SITS --- P.J. Carlesimo told me Chris Wilcox isn't starting because his dislocated right pinky is still bothering the Sonics PF. The coach also attributed Wilcox's conditioning and Nick Collison's solid play. But the main point was Carlesimo doesn't feel comfortable starting Wilcox unitl he proves to him the injury is no longer a factor.

STARTING LINEUPS

HOUSTON
PF -- Chuck Hayes
SF -- Shane Battier
C -- Yao Ming
SG -- Bonzi Wells
PG -- Rafer Alston

SONICS
PF -- Nick Collison
SF -- Jeff Green
C -- Kurt Thomas
SG -- Kevin Durant
PG -- Earl Watson

Officials: Bennett Salvatore, Derrick Collins and David Guthrie


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