Chandler has 18 points, seven rebounds after losing starting spot

NEW YORK -- Anyone who comes off the Knicks bench seems to be scoring these days.

Wilson Chandler was removed from the starting lineup after his recent struggles and responded with 18 points in a 104-98 win over the Houston Rockets on Monday night. Fellow reserve Nate Robinson continued his strong play to lead New York with 19 points.

Chandler's 3-pointer with more than two minutes left gave the Knicks the lead for good at 97-96.

The Knicks' reserves scored at least 50 points for the fourth straight game.

"Wil really responded today," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "You knew he would. He's played real well all year."

New York had been 0-21 in games in which it trailed after three quarters.

"For once we started the fourth quarter down and we won the game," D'Antoni said. "That's a baby step."

The Rockets were playing without center Yao Ming (sore right knee) for the second straight game. Yao went out just as Tracy McGrady and Ron Artest were returning from injuries of their own.

Artest (right ankle) had 24 points in Sunday's win at Detroit, but struggled to 4-of-19 shooting against the Knicks. McGrady (left knee) had 20 points with more than five minutes left in the game then missed his last five shots.

Chandler often faced the assignment of guarding McGrady. He had been replaced by Al Harrington in the starting lineup after averaging just 3.3 points on 25 percent shooting over his previous three games. He was 6-of-10 Monday and added seven rebounds and three assists.

Houston led 89-80 with less than eight minutes left when the Knicks went on a 14-5 run to tie the game.

Robinson scored nine points during the spurt. He's averaging 20.3 points over his last four games, bouncing back from a slump in which he averaged 9.7 during the previous 11.

Chandler had his first scoreless game of the season in Saturday's loss at Philadelphia. During the Knicks' day off Sunday, he spent a few hours in the gym.

"Coach, he's going to make a lot of changes," Chandler said. "If he feels a certain way that things are going to make us win, he's going to make that change."

After Luis Scola scored inside to break the tie, Chandler's 3-pointer put the Knicks ahead to stay.

Scola had 16 points and 14 rebounds for Houston.

The Rockets attempted a season-high 33 3-pointers, making just 10.

"We're not playing team ball," guard Rafer Alston said. "We were very selfish tonight. They were able to capitalize on our selfishness. We have to decide whether we're going to play one-on-one or we're going to pass the ball to each other and play team ball."

Game notes
The Knicks had lost eight straight to Houston. They last beat the Rockets on Nov. 18, 2004. ... Knicks rookie Danilo Gallinari returned after sitting out one game with a sore lower back. He had four points. ... The Knicks' Tim Thomas hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the first quarter. ... Rockets backup center Dikembe Mutombo pleased the crowd with his trademark finger wag in the second half after they hooted him for standing up off the bench and arguing a call.