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Rockets get late boost

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 25, 2003

BOSTON -- The fans came to see Yao Ming, and for most of the game they saw a 7-foot-6 decoy.

Cuttino Mobley scored 31, hitting a 3-pointer to force overtime and another for the winner to lead Houston 101-95 over the Celtics on Monday as Yao made his Boston debut before a sellout crowd on Asian-American Night.

"They were all over Yao and this was a great learning experience for him," Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "This was the most concentrated defense I have seen on one guy this season defending Yao."

Yao had nine points on two shots as the Celtics banged him around and denied him the ball at the low post. But he hit a skyhook in the lane with 3:59 left in the fourth to cap an 11-0 run that cut the Celtics' lead to four as the Rockets scored 20 of the last 25 points in regulation. Antoine Walker scored 22 for Boston.

WOLVES 117, BUCKS 114: Kevin Garnett had 34 points and 12 rebounds as Minnesota ruined Gary Payton's home debut. Garnett, averaging 28.2 points and 14.2 rebounds this month, has a league-best 47 double doubles. Wally Szczerbiak scored 26 for Minnesota. Payton finished with a team-high 21 points and nine assists.

BULLS 90, SUNS 87: Jalen Rose recorded his first triple double and scored the final seven points for host Chicago. Rose had 19 points, 11 assists and 14 rebounds as Chicago snapped a three-game losing streak. Amare Stoudemire had a chance to tie at 84 for the Suns with 13.4 seconds left. Stoudemire tipped in his miss and was fouled but could not convert the three-point play. He finished with 19 points and nine rebounds.

SONICS 86, PISTONS 79: Ray Allen, playing his first game in Seattle since being traded for Gary Payton, scored 14 of his 23 in the second half. Richard Hamilton scored 22 for Detroit, which fell into a tie with Indiana for first in the Central Division.

WARRIORS 94, NUGGETS 89: Gilbert Arenas had 19 points and visiting Golden State got 56 points from its bench. Juwan Howard scored 29 to lead Denver, which lost its ninth straight.

GRIZZLIES 103, JAZZ 92: Wesley Person scored 27, including six 3-pointers, for host Memphis. Karl Malone scored 22 to lead the Utah, which had beaten the Grizzlies three times this season. The Grizzlies were without Mike Miller (back spasms), who averaged 17 points in his first two games after being traded from Orlando.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: The Magic's Tracy McGrady and Lakers' Kobe Bryant were honored. McGrady averaged 40.7 points and scored a career-high 52 against the Bulls. Bryant scored 52 points against the Rockets and has scored at least 40 in nine straight games.

HAWKS: Forward Glenn Robinson appeared in a Markham, Ill., court after a judge issued a warrant for his arrest because he missed a hearing in an assault case. The arrest warrant was set aside Friday, but Robinson was ordered to appear at all future hearings. Judge John Turner raised Robinson's bond from $5,000 to $100,000 and ordered him to surrender his passport. In July, Robinson was charged with domestic battery, assault and unlawful possession of a firearm.

HEAT: Rookie Caron Butler was released from the hospital after two nights to treat severe flu symptoms. He will miss today's game at San Antonio and likely Wednesday's at New Orleans.

LAKERS: Coach Phil Jackson had a kidney stone removed and may miss tonight's game against the Clippers.

MAVERICKS: Guard Nick Van Exel was fined $20,000 for verbally abusing referees in Sunday's win over Washington.

SIXERS: Diagnosed with a genetic disorder that weakens his legs and disrupts his balance, Todd MacCulloch's career could be over. Medical experts said it is unlikely MacCulloch can continue playing with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. In most cases, doctors said patients lose normal use of their feet and legs slowly as their nerves stop working properly and their muscles deteriorate.

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