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Victory Is a First for Yao

March 08, 2004|From Associated Press

HOUSTON — Yao Ming finally has a victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

Yao scored 29 points, including five in the final 45 seconds, and the Houston Rockets handed the Mavericks their third straight loss with a 101-98 victory Sunday.

It ended a six-game losing streak to Dallas and was Yao's first win against the Mavericks in seven tries. He had won against every other NBA team.

"There is a phrase in Chinese: 'Resolve is victory,' " Yao said.

The Rockets needed plenty of resolve to overcome their season-high 30 turnovers and a franchise record 20 steals by the Mavericks, including nine by Dirk Nowitzki.

With 45 seconds to play, Yao tipped in a basket off a miss by Jim Jackson to give Houston a 92-90 lead. He then completed a three-point play with 15 seconds remaining to put Houston ahead, 95-92.

"That was the play of the game," Dallas Coach Don Nelson said.

Steve Francis drove the lane and passed to Yao, who sank the basket as he was fouled by Antawn Jamison.

"I saw everybody focusing on Steve because he was trying to break down their defense, so I thought I would help out," Yao said. "That's just the most obvious play. There were a lot of big plays in the game."

A three-point basket by Antoine Walker with 4.2 seconds left cut Houston's lead to 98-97, before two free throws by Clarence Weatherspoon and one by Cuttino Mobley provided Houston's final points.

Michael Finley missed a desperation three-point shot at the buzzer for Dallas.

Steve Nash led Dallas with 22 points and nine assists. Nowitzki scored 18 points.

"It's too bad we had a franchise record and were not able to win the game," Nelson said of the 20 steals. "We were really active with our hands, and that probably kept us in the game."

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