Rockets 123, Hawks 121, 3 OT

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HOUSTON (AP)—Yao Ming made the Atlanta Hawks pay for their physical play.

Yao scored a career-high 41 points, including eight in the last of three overtimes, to help the Houston Rockets beat the Hawks 123-121 on Sunday night in the NBA’s longest game since 2000-01.

Atlanta centers Joel Przybilla and Zeljko Rebraca both fouled out trying to stop the 7-foot-6 Chinese center.

“They were using a lot of strategy against me that I didn’t really like,” Yao said. “They were doing a lot of hitting. I didn’t like the way they were playing me.”

Though he played 50 minutes, Yao didn’t look tired in the third overtime as he scored six points in the first two minutes.

“I still thought I was very tired,” he said. “I was tired to the point I felt numb. But I just had to keep going.”

Yao was 15-of-21 from the field, 11-of-13 from the line, and had 16 rebounds and seven assists.

“I thought we needed every play we could get down the stretch from a lot of different guys,” Van Gundy said. “Yao obviously came through with a lot of big baskets.”

Atlanta coach Terry Stotts was impressed by Yao.

“We played zone to contain Yao and he still had 41 points,” Stotts said. “He’s a heck of a presence. That last shot he made was a great example of how good he is. He has a soft touch.”

Przybilla agreed.

“He’s got skills,” Przybilla said. “It’s not all about the height. It’s about what you do with your skill. Tonight he was on.

“He’s too big to play in front of so I tried to stay behind him. He’s a strong guy. He’s stronger than he was last year. He can get his shot off whenever he wants.”

Steve Francis had 16 points, including nine in the overtimes, but fouled out with 37 seconds left in the third extra period.

In the third overtime, Yao scored Houston’s first six points, but Stephen Jackson tied it with one of two free throws with 47 seconds remaining, and Bob Sura scored with 37 seconds to go to give the Hawks a 122-120 lead.

Yao then hit a short jumper with 23 seconds left and Mobley made one of two free throws with 8 seconds to play.

Yao hit a layup with 32 seconds to play in regulation to put Houston up 94-91, but Atlanta’s Chris Crawford made a 3-pointer with 25 seconds to play to tie it at 94.

Francis then forced the second overtime, hitting a 3-pointer with 2 seconds to play in the first extra period.

Jason Terry hit a 3 with 54 seconds left to give the Hawks a 114-111 lead in the second overtime. Jim Jackson countered with a 3 from the corner to tie it with 5 seconds left.

Jim Jackson finished with 17 points. Terry led Atlanta with 27 points, andStephen Jackson added 24.

Notes

Houston also won the NBA’s last three-overtime game, beating visiting Indiana 127-118 on March 13, 2001. … Atlanta has lost five straight in Houston, and 11 of its last 12. … The Rockets are 6-6 on first nights and 9-4 on second nights of back-to-back games … Houston is 6-0 when Yao has at leastfour blocks. … Terry has at least one steal in 18 straight games.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Atlanta
J. Terry J. Terry
11-23,  27 Pts
3 Rebs, 6 Assists
 Houston
Y. Ming Y. Ming
15-21,  41 Pts
16 Rebs, 7 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists