Yao 3-pointer sparks Rockets past Bobcats

Agence France-Presse

CHARLOTTE -- Yao Ming scored 23 points, including his second National Basketball Association career 3-pointer, to help to Houston Rockets hold off Charlotte 91-86 on Friday.

The 7-foot-6 Chinese superstar center stunned his teammates and the crowd with his rare long-range basket and Ron Artest made a key basket and block in the final seconds to give Houston the victory.

Yao's shocking shot from beyond the 3-point arc came with the ball in his hands and the shot clock ticking almost out with the game on the line. He hit a 3-pointer from the top of the arc with 2:12 to play to put Houston ahead 83-77.

"When the shooting clock runs down to one second, what do you do?" Yao said.

Yao's 3-point shot was his first attempt from beyond the arc this season qand only the 10th of his seven-season NBA career. He had not made a 3-pointer since his rookie campaign in 2002-2003.

After the clutch stunner, Yao leaped into the air and pumped his fist while the Rockets' bench celebrated.

"I've been telling him all year I'm going to set up a play to shoot a 3," Adelman said. "I guess I'll take credit for that one."

Yao shot 9-of-11 from the field with eight rebounds and three blocked shots, but is not ready to adopt a shooting guard's role on a regular basis.

"Not really," Yao said. "I think I'm good in the post."

Yao took only three shots in the whole second half two nights earlier in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers that ended Houston's 12-game home win streak. Yao was 5-of-6 for 12 points in the first half against the Bobcats.

Even with Yao's basket building a solid lead, the Rockets made matters tough on themselves at the finish.

"Just very fortunate, very fortunate to get that win," Rockets coach Rick Adelman said. "We had it in control and we made three straight mistakes."

The Rockets squandered a six point lead to allow the Bobcats to draw even before Artest sank a jump shot with 22 seconds remaining and blocked a Vladimir Radmanovic 3-point shot that he returned for a layup to conclude the scoring.

"I wanted the ball," Artest said. "I always want the ball in the end."

Luis Scola added 15 and Artest, 4-of-11 before his final two critical baskets, scored 10 points for the Rockets, who face Southwest division rival San Antonio on Saturday.

Gerald Wallace scored 17 points and Raja Bell added 16 for Charlotte.

It was Bell, who started 2-for-12 from the field, who sparked the late Bobcats rally with a 3-pointer and two jumpers to seize a late lead before Artest sparked a comeback.

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