Artest steps up for Yao-less Rockets

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Associated Press

Ron Artest could not have started any worse or finished much better.

Houston’s veteran leader scored all of his 18 points in the second half, and the Rockets overcame the absence of center Yao Ming in a 95-84 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Monday night.

Artest missed his first 11 shots, nine in the first half, but hit four tough shots in a row as the Rockets rallied from an 11-point third-quarter deficit to take the lead.

Chris Paul had 29 points and 11 assists for the Hornets, who have lost two straight.

Yao sat out with flu-like symptoms and Dikembe Mutombo started in his place.