TODAY: Rockets at CHARLOTTE Bobcats When/where: 6 p.m.; Charlotte, N.C.
Radio/TV: FSH; 610 AM and 850 AM (Spanish).
Records: Rockets 42-24; Bobcats 28-36.
KEY MATCHUP: Yao Ming versus Emeka Okafor. Yao has averaged 22 points per game against the Bobcats, with Charlotte increasing double-team attention against him. Okafor, the former Bellaire standout, has had a solid season, averaging 14.1 points and 10.5 rebounds.
Rockets update: Coming off a poor 3-point-shooting game against the Lakers in which they were just 5-of-28, the Rockets face Charlotte, having gone 13-of-27 on 3s against the Bobcats in a win last month. The Rockets have won their past six meetings against the Bobcats.
Bobcats update: The Bobcats had a six-game winning streak before Tuesday's loss to the Spurs in San Antonio. Charlotte is 8-4 at home against Western Conference teams.
Different look for Yao
Almost every team throws assorted double- and triple-team defenses at Yao Ming, but the Lakers came up with a twist that seemed to catch the Rockets off-balance enough that he can expect to see it again. Yao was 6-for-6 in the first half Wednesday but took only three shots in the second half. His only shot of the second half prior to the final two minutes was a 20-footer he rushed to beat the shot clock.
The Lakers sent defensive help along the baseline, making it more difficult for Yao to time the double-team and find open shooters and for the Rockets to move to the areas where they normally find open shots around him.
"That is unusual, because most teams double-team from the first small or from the top," Yao said. "From the baseline, that is what I need to improve upon."
The Rockets still shot well (51.3 percent), but their difficulties with the Lakers' defense led to a season-high 23 turnovers.
"I played bad in the second half," forward Ron Artest said. "We couldn't get Yao the ball at times."
All in good fun
Though Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest were hit with double-technical fouls when they were tangled in the fourth quarter, both described it as "fun."
"He's a good competitor," Artest said. "It was a fun game. The technical foul, it was more of a respect technical foul. It wasn't a hateful technical foul on our part."
Said Bryant: "It was edgy. I would expect nothing less. He's a competitor; I'm a competitor. It's fun."