After missing five of his first six shots, Yao scored 13 of his
21 points in the fourth quarter as the Rockets ended a four-game
losing skid with a 97-95 victory over the Toronto Raptors on
"I have to thank my teammates for their faith in me. I don't
think I played that well in the first half and they continued to
give me the ball in the second half," Yao said through a
translator. "This kind of trust grows my confidence."
The 7-foot-6 rookie center shot 9-of-17 and grabbed nine
rebounds before a crowd filled with fans from Toronto's Chinese
community. He attracted approximately 50 media members from the
city's Asian television, radio and newspaper outlets. A Rockets
spokesman said it was by far the biggest media turnout for Yao in
any NBA city.
"Sometimes it is difficult to tell my fans apart from everybody
because this arena is so big and you look in the crowd and see a
small head," Yao said.
Steve Francis added 19 points for the Rockets, who moved ahead
of Golden State for ninth place in the Western Conference and
within 1½ games of Phoenix for the final playoff spot.
"This is definitely a huge victory for us," Francis said. "We
needed a win any way we could get it."
Yao appeared to block Antonio Davis' dunk attempt with 35
seconds left, but the officials ruled it a foul and Davis made two
free throws to tie it at 92.
After Yao missed a layup, he grabbed the rebound and was fouled.
Yao then made both free throws with 26.7 seconds left.
"I was able to anticipate where the ball was going to come off
the rim," Yao said of his big rebound.
Vince Carter, who scored 21 points for Toronto, missed a driving
layup with 10 seconds left. Carter felt he was fouled by Yao on the
"Anytime somebody sticks their leg out and knocks you down it's
a foul," Carter said.
Yao said he thought a call could have been made.
The Raptors fouled James Posey, who made two free throws to give
Houston a 96-92 lead with 8.4 seconds remaining.
Toronto's Alvin Williams followed with a 3-pointer, cutting
Houston's lead to one with 2.8 seconds left.
Yao made one of two free throws to give Houston a 97-95 lead
with 2.1 seconds to go.
Williams made a baseball pass to Voshon Lenard, whose potential
tying jumper at the buzzer hit off the back of the rim and the side
of the rim before rolling out.
"The ball just rimmed out on Vo," Toronto's Jerome Williams
said. "It was a great shot. He had a good look."
Houston, down by six entering the fourth, began the quarter on a
7-0 run as Francis converted a three-point play and Yao made a hook
shot and jumper to give the Rockets their first lead since the
Toronto has a Chinese community of more than 400,000. ...
The Raptors are 9-6 since Carter returned to the lineup after
missing 23 consecutive games with a strained right knee.
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