HOUSTON, Feb. 22 (Ticker) --
In the longest game of his career, Yao Ming
did not seem tired.
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Yao scored eight of his career-best 41 points in triple overtime
to lead the Houston Rockets to a wild 123-121 triumph over the
Atlanta Hawks, their sixth victory in seven games.
Yao made 15-of-21 shots and added 16 rebounds and a career-high
seven assists in 50 minutes for the Rockets, who were coming off
a 97-88 loss at Dallas on Saturday.
"I think I was very tired to the point I felt numb," Yao said
through an interpreter. "I just had to keep going. Feeling
tired is a bad feeling, but losing is worse."
"He did everything," Rockets guard Steve Francis
rebounded, he scored, he passed and he defended, too. It was
very exciting to see him lead us the way he did."
The Rockets trailed, 121-120, before Yao made a spinning jumper
with 23 seconds left in the third extra period. Hawks guard
Jason Terry drove the lane but, due to the outstretched arm of
the 7-6 Yao, was forced to pass while airborne to recent signee
, who missed a layup.
"We played zone to control Yao and he still had 41 points,"
Hawks coach Terry Stotts
said. "The last shot he made shows
exactly how good he is. He's an imposing figure out there with
a nice touch. He got points off of rebounds, he got us in foul
trouble and he made his free throws. He did a little bit of
everything out there."
After a timeout, Cuttino Mobley
was fouled with 8.7 seconds left
but split a pair of attempts, giving Atlanta a chance to tie or
win. Bobby Sura
, playing his first game since being acquired
from Detroit on Thursday, missed a floater over Yao, and Atlanta
could not grab the rebound as time expired.
"I definitely got fouled but they didn't call it," said Sura,
who had season highs of 14 points and seven assists. "It was a
pick-and-roll and I got past (Rockets forward Maurice) Taylor
and I got shoved in the back and I missed it."
The Hawks played their first triple-overtime game since a
135-132 loss at San Antonio on March 20, 1984. The Rockets went
to triple OT for the first time since March 13, 2001, a 127-118
home win over Indiana.
Mobley scored 28 points in 59 minutes for the Rockets.
Backcourt mate Francis had only 16 on 5-of-20 shooting in 58
minutes before fouling out with 37 seconds left.
"I felt like I played that many minutes," Mobley said. "I'm
tired as hell. I'm just glad we didn't give up."
In a game that featured 20 lead changes and 18 ties, Atlanta's
tied it, 94-94, on a 3-pointer with 25 seconds
left in the fourth quarter. Jim Jackson
, who scored 17 points
in 54 minutes for Houston, missed a jumper in the final seconds.
Francis, who had been 0-for-6 from the arc, nailed a 3-pointer
from the right corner with 2.9 seconds left in overtime that
tied the game, 107-107. After a timeout, Atlanta's Jason Terry
had a clear path to the basket but missed a layup over Jackson
and Yao just before the buzzer.
"I just missed it," Terry said. "It was a wide-open layup and I
just missed it."
In the second overtime, Jackson connected on a 3-pointer from
the right corner with 5.8 seconds left to tie it at 114.
Atlanta called a timeout, but N'Diaye was forced to take a long
jumper and shot an airball, and Sura could not scoop the ball in
before time expired.
Terry scored 27 points and Stephen Jackson
added 24 for the
Hawks, who lost a third straight game.
"Every team needs miracles like this during the course of a
season," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy
said. "Hopefully we can
come back stronger from it."