HOUSTON Yao Ming scored 23 points, including the winning free throws with 15.2 seconds left, to lead the Houston Rockets to a 103-102 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
Tracy McGrady had 21 points and Bob Sura had 19 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and five steals for the Rockets, who have won four straight and eight of their last 10.
Los Angeles forward Brian Cook missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds to play, and the Lakers fumbled away the ensuing rebound as the clock expired.
Cook flashed a pained smile as the Rockets stormed onto the court, and Yao pumped his fist before running into a mob of teammates to celebrate another close win.
Lamar Odom scored 14 of his 22 points in the final period and Chucky Atkins added 21 for the Lakers, who came up just short in their bid to win their first game under interim coach Frank Hamblen.
Hamblen took over Wednesday when Rudy Tomjanovich resigned as head coach, citing health concerns. Hamblen, a 57-year-old career assistant, again lobbied for the return of Phil Jackson before the game.
The Lakers really could've used the late-game poise of Jackson and Kobe Bryant, who hasn't played since Jan. 13 when he severely sprained his right ankle.
76ers 106, Clippers 104
PHILADELPHIA Allen Iverson scored 28 points, including the winning free throws with 1:01 to play.
The Sixers completed a 3-1 homestand and moved within one game of .500 overall (23-24).
Kyle Korver had 16 points, Andre Iguodala added 15 and Williamson and Kenny Thomas each scored 14 for the Sixers. Bobby Simmons led the Clippers with 27 points, while Elton Brand had 21 and Chris Kaman 18.
Mavericks 122, Raptors 113
TORONT Dirk Nowitzki had 30 points to help the Dallas Mavericks outlast the Toronto Raptors.
Dallas led by as many as 25 points in the third quarter, but the Raptors cut it four before Jason Terry's 3-pointer gave the Mavericks a seven-point lead with 36 seconds left.
Michael Finley added 23 points for the Mavericks, who shot a season-high 60 percent from the field. Chris Bosh had a career-high 29 points for the Raptors and Jalen Rose added 22.
Celtics 103, Timberwolves 100
MINNEAPOLIS Paul Pierce scored 32 points, including 15 in the third quarter, to lead the Boston Celtics.
Gary Payton had 22 points and Ricky Davis added 12 points for the Celtics, who won their third consecutive game and evened their record at 24-24. That's the same mark for the Timberwolves, who have a far different feeling about being .500 after losing their fifth straight.
Sam Cassell's contested 3-pointer from 29 feet at the buzzer came up well short of the rim.
Michael Olowokandi turned in the best game of his disappointing stay with the Timberwolves, with a season-high 21 points and nine rebounds. Kevin Garnett had 21 points and Fred Hoiberg added 14 points for Minnesota.
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