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Triumphant Yao intrigued by Celtics' 3-point tactics

1/14/2003

HOUSTON (AP) -- The way the Boston Celtics jacked up 3-pointers
was foreign to Yao Ming.

"I've never seen so many 3s,'' the 7-foot-6 center from China
said after the Houston Rockets got 26 points from Steve Francis and
overcame Boston's 3-point barrage to win 101-92 Monday night.

Cuttino Mobley added 24 points, James Posey had 12 and Yao
blocked five shots as the Rockets won their second in a row and
sent the Celtics to their eighth loss in 10 games.

Boston attempted 33 3-point shots, tying the most ever by a
Rockets opponent, and made 14 of them.

"Boy, they're a dangerous team,'' Rockets coach Rudy
Tomjanovich said. "They stick with their system, and that's to
create one-on-ones and then big payoffs with the 3s. And they shot
'em.''

They certainly did, with Antoine Walker and rookie J.R. Bremer
making four apiece and Paul Pierce adding three.

Pierce led Boston with 24 points, Walker had 23 and Bremer added
22 -- nearly doubling his total for the season -- in his first career
start.

"I think we made good decisions on our 3s. I don't remember a 3
that we forced, until the end of the game,'' Celtics coach Jim
O'Brien said.

Francis and Yao both had big first quarters to give Houston a
lead it never surrendered, but the Rockets couldn't put much
distance between themselves and the Celtics in the fourth quarter.

Walker's fastbreak layup with 2:21 left pulled Boston to 89-87.
Francis answered with two foul shots, Mobley made a long 2-pointer,
Kedrick Brown missed a 3 and Francis connected with another long
2-pointer for a 95-88 lead with 52.7 seconds left.

Francis and James Posey, who started in place of Glen Rice, each
went 2-for-2 from the line the rest of the way to wrap up the
victory.

"They sure didn't give up. They went to their stuff. Paul
Pierce did a great job for them in the fourth quarter,'' Francis
said.

Francis had six points and six assists and Yao had five points,
four rebounds and four blocks in the first quarter alone as Houston
jumped out to a 29-17 lead after the first 12 minutes.

The Celtics didn't go inside much after that, and a 3-pointer by
Bremer pulled them to 50-46 at halftime.

A 3-pointer by Posey made it 61-50 early in the third before
Boston came back and tied it with an 11-0 run, ending with a
3-pointer by Walker. Houston led 69-68 entering the fourth.

Game notes
Yao, who sustained a minor left knee sprain Saturday night
against Denver, said the injury did not bother him during the game.
His only discomfort was from the heat generated by a protective
sleeve on his knee. ... Bremer had scored 23 points in his first 18
games, including 10 on Sunday night at San Antonio. ... An MRI
revealed a cartilage tear in Rice's left shoulder. He will be out
at least two weeks, with the Rockets hoping that rest, rather than
surgery, will heal the injury. ... Bremer started in place of Tony
Delk, who was injured Sunday at San Antonio . "It's still sore and
I just can't jump off it. I think I'm day-to-day, and hopefully
it's not a week,'' Delk said. ... Pierce has led the Celtics in
scoring in five straight games. ... Houston improved to 9-1 at home
against teams from the East.