TORONTO, March 5 (Ticker) --
All-Star rookie Yao Ming
's big fourth
quarter helped make his first NBA visit to Canada a successful
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Yao scored 13 of his 21 points in the final quarter, including
three free throws in the last 27 seconds, as the Houston Rockets
ended a four-game losing streak with a 97-95 victory over the
After Yao hit 1-of-2 foul shots with 2.1 seconds left, Toronto's
took the long inbounds pass just inside the arc
and took a turnaround jumper that went in-and-out.
With 2:25 to play, Yao sank his second straight hoop to tie the
game at 88-88. With 27 seconds left, his two free throws gave
the Rockets a 94-92 edge.
scored 19 points and Cuttino Mobley
added 14 for
the Rockets (31-30), who avoided falling below the .500 mark for
the first time since losing their season opener.
"I have to thank my teammates for their faith in me, because I
don't think I played that well in the first half and they
continued to get me the ball in the second half," Yao said
through an interpreter. "This kind of trust builds my own
The game took place in front of a crowd of 20,171, the largest
at the Air Canada Centre this season.
"I'd like to thank all the fans for supporting me, and everybody
for supporting me," Yao said. "I really love the fans."
, whose potential tying layup fell short with 10
seconds to play, scored 21 points, and Antonio Davis
19, eight rebounds and six assists while defending Yao.
"He (Yao) is strong," Davis said. "His legs are strong and you
can't move him."
After Yao evened the game at 88-88, Lenard and Mobley exchanged
baskets before James Posey
's steal and layup gave the Rockets a
92-90 lead with 38 seconds left. Davis hit two free throws
three seconds later to get Toronto even for the last time.
"We haven't been playing bad, but we just couldn't get a break,"
said Francis. "This is definitely a huge victory for us after
losing four straight."
Toronto let a 47-40 halftime lead disappear but appeared to be
taking command when Jerome Williams
' basket with 1:55 to go in
the third period provided a 71-62 advantage.
But a 10-0 run erased the deficit and gave the Rockets a 72-71
edge on Yao's 15-footer 57 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Neither team was able to open more than a two-point lead until
Alvin Williams' free throws with 3:30 remaining put Toronto on
"It was a heck of an effort and a fun game to be a part of, the
way it went back and forth," Carter said.
Carter liked the looks of Lenard's last shot.
"We should still be playing. It looked good when it left his
hand," Carter said.
Posey scored 13 points and Maurice Taylor
and Eddie Griffin
added 12 for the Rockets, who shot 48 percent (42-of-88) from
the field and held a 44-39 rebounding advantage. Griffin had 12
boards and Yao nine.
The Rockets trail Phoenix by 1 1/2 games in the fight for the
final playoff spot in the West.
"We're in survival mode, fighting for a playoff spot," Rocket
coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "We've had a lot of games (like)
tonight. We lost some, we just had to have this."
Lenard scored 15 points and Jerome Williams had 14 and 10
rebounds for the Raptors, who fell to 9-6 since Carter came off
the injured list.