- The Washington Times - Friday, March 13, 2009

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Yao Ming scored 23 points, Ron Artest hit the go-ahead jumper and made the key defensive play, and Houston Rockets recovered after blowing a late lead to beat the Charlotte Bobcats 91-86 on Friday night.

Artest’s jumper with 22 seconds left put Houston ahead, and after Aaron Brooks hit two free throws, Artest came from behind to block Vladimir Radmanovic’s game-tying 3-point attempt. Artest picked up the ball and raced in for a layup to put it away.

Luis Scola added 15 points and Artest scored 10 for the Rockets, who appeared to have the game in hand when the 7-foot-6 Yao drilled a straightaway 3-pointer _ the second of his career _ with 2:12 left to put Houston ahead 83-77.

Gerald Wallace scored 17 points and Raja Bell added 16 for the cold-shooting Bobcats, who have lost two straight following their team-record, six-game winning streak.

The rare sight of Yao hitting a 3-pointer was the top moment until the frantic finish.

It was the first attempt of the season and his second make in 10 attempts in his seven-year career _ the last coming as a rookie in 2002-03.

Yao jumped and pumped his fist, while Houston’s bench celebrated _ but the Bobcats weren’t finished.

Bell, who started 2-for-12 from the field, hit a jumper and a 3-pointer to get Charlotte within 85-82. After Brooks’ turnover in the backcourt led to Boris Diaw’s layup, Yao was called for an illegal screen.

Yao blocked Emeka Okafor at the other end, but Bell picked up the loose ball and buried a jumper in the lane to put the Bobcats ahead 86-85 with 34 seconds left.

Artest, who had been 3-for-10 from the field, caught a break when Wallace fell down guarding him. Left open, Artest hit the jumper from the top of the key.

Bell missed a long-range jumper at the other end, and Brooks hit two free throws with 7.2 seconds left before Artest’s defensive play put the Rockets in a good mood ahead of Saturday’s Western Conference showdown against San Antonio.

Charlotte, which lost to the Spurs on Tuesday, took a damaging loss as it tries to secure eighth place in the Eastern Conference and the first playoff berth in team history.

The Rockets shot 51 percent as they got Yao more looks. Two nights after he took just three second-half shots in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers that ended their 12-game home winning streak, Yao had 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the first while Okafor was scoreless and 0-for-2 from the field.

Houston dominated the third quarter thanks to Charlotte’s horrendous 5-of-19 shooting. With Artest hitting two straight jumpers after starting 1-for-7 and Scola’s active play inside, the Rockets took a 68-60 lead late in the period.

Yao was 9-of-11 from the field and grabbed eight rebounds.

Notes:@ Bobcats G Raymond Felton, who becomes a restricted free agent this summer, said he wants to stay in Charlotte. “No question,” Felton said. “I love this team.” … Bobcats C DeSagana Diop shot an airball on his first free throw, then made the second to improve to 4-of-20 since joining Charlotte. … The Rockets signed G James White to a second 10-day contract even though he hasn’t played. “We’ve got to get to see him and see whether it’s somebody we want to keep for the rest of the year,” Rockets coach Rick Adelman. … Bobcats G Dontell Jefferson, signed to a 10-day contract Wednesday, was inactive.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide