LOS ANGELES, Nov. 24 (Ticker) -- Yao Ming's
height may have worked
NBA TV highlights from|
Yao goaltended Eric Piatkowski's
running bank shot with 1.4
seconds left that gave the Los Angeles Clippers a 90-89 victory
over the Houston Rockets, who collapsed down the stretch.
The Rockets erased a 10-point halftime deficit and led by as
many eight points in the fourth quarter. But they squandered a
six-point lead in the final 84 seconds and have dropped five of
the last seven meetings with the Clippers.
A dunk by Glen Rice
, who scored a season-high 23 points, gave
Houston an 89-83 lead with 1:24 left. Andre Miller
with a lane jumper and Moochie Norris
missed two free throws.
Miller made 1-of-2 foul shots and Norris committed a turnover.
cut the deficit to 89-88 with 37 seconds
remaining with a hook over the 7-5 Yao, who missed a turnaround
jumper at the other end.
The Rockets twice knocked the ball out of bounds before the
Clippers finally were able to inbound to Piatkowski, whose
runner from the left wing hit the backboard and rattled around
the rim. Yao touched it while it was within the cylinder,
counting the basket.
"It felt really good," Piatkowski said. "Most people don't
practice that shot, but I actually practice the runner a lot.
The most important thing when you shoot that shot is it has to
be very soft, have a lot or arc on it. And I did. I put it up
there real soft. It was able to bounce around and fall in.
"He hit it. I was right there in front of the rim. It was in
because I couldn't tell for a second, but that last bounce, I
said it's going in and that's when he hit it."
Playing just his 12th NBA game, Yao sounded unclear on the rules
regarding goaltending, which are different than in the
"I'm much better than before, but I still have to get used to
some of the rules," Yao said. "I knew that I couldn't touch it.
I didn't touch it. I took my hand away before he touched it.
Even if I hadn't been, it still would have gone in."
"I thought it was already going down," Rockets coach Rudy
Tomjanovich added. "He might have reacted. He hasn't been
On their last possession, the Rockets went to Steve Francis
had 31 points, 10 assists and eight steals but inexplicably did
not touch the ball in the final minute. His fallaway jumper
off one foot was no good at the buzzer.
"It was hard, especially losing when we had the game in the
fourth quarter," Francis said. "We made so many mistakes late
in the game that hurt us. We had a lot of breakdowns. We
missed free throws big-time late in the game. The No. 1 thing
we didn't do was we didn't concentrate down the stretch."
had a season-high 26 points and 15 rebounds and
came off the bench to score a season-high 18
points for the Clippers, who won for just the second time in
seven games at the Staples Center.
"It was a must win," Brand said. "If we ever needed a must win
in November, that was it."
Ming, the top overall pick of the 2002 draft who had a pair of
breakout games this week, was limited to four points and seven
rebounds in 28 minutes. For a brief stretch, he shared the
court with Chinese compatriot Wang Zhizhi
of the Clippers.
"I don't think we were the main players in the game," Yao said.
"Hopefully, me and Yao will get better and give more respect to
Chinese basketball and make Chinese basketball better," Wang
Rice was held scoreless in the first half, which ended with
Houston trailing, 48-38. But he caught fire in the third
quarter, scoring 18 points.
"I was feeling it, just a little bit," Rice said. "I was just
getting into a rhythm and my teammates were looking for me,
setting some great screens."
"That's what we wanted to get him for, to space the floor,"
Tomjanovich said. "Plus, he's a good post-up guy. He found his
rhythm. I'm glad to see it."
Francis made a 3-pointer at the horn to give the Rockets a 69-66
lead. He scored seven more points early in the fourth quarter
before a jumper by Rice made it 80-72 with 5:41 left.
"You should never ever let teams come back and the way to do
that is come down (and) make some very simple conservative
plays," Olowokandi said. "We haven't done that much this year."
A 3-pointer by Dooling cut the deficit to 81-78 with 3:48 to
play, but Francis replied with three free throws. Another
3-pointer by Dooling made it 84-81 with 2:35 left, but Norris
answered with a 3-pointer, his only basket of the game.
Miller had 15 points and eight assists, Piatkowski scored 14
points and Olowokandi added 10 for the Clippers, who shot 46.5
percent (33-of-71) but committed 22 turnovers, including eight
had 12 points and nine boards for the Rockets, who
shot 45 percent (32-of-71) and committed 23 turnovers, including
eight by Francis.