Rockets 111, Bucks 107, OT

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MILWAUKEE (AP)—The Houston Rockets scrambled in the fourth quarter to get to overtime—a place where they have been very comfortable recently.

The Rockets rallied from a nine-point deficit with less than five minutes to go in regulation before beating the Milwaukee Bucks 111-107 Sunday for their third overtime win in four games.

“The game is not 48 minutes for us, it is a 53-minute game now,” said Yao Ming, who had 27 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks.

In overtime, Milwaukee cut a seven-point lead to 108-107 with six seconds left when Houston’s Jim Jackson made two free throws after not being called for an apparent traveling violation on the inbounds pass.

Michael Redd then was called for a line violation while inbounding and Steve Francis made one free throw for the final margin.

Francis finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, while Maurice Taylor and Cuttino Mobley each added 19.

Bucks coach Terry Porter got a technical in overtime while arguing that Yao, who committed five personal fouls, should have been called for fouling Desmond Mason.

“He got more than six fouls tonight,” Porter said. “After the fifth, there were four or five that were very obvious.”

But the Bucks failed to convert when fouls were called, making just 20 of 34 free throw attempts compared to Houston, which went 39-of-45.

“That might be the tale of the game,” Redd said. “They had a decisive free throw advantage over us for most of the game, so that hurt us.”

Redd had 36 points and a career-high 14 rebounds for the Bucks while Joe Smith scored a season-high 25 points. Milwaukee was without Keith Van Horn, who sprained his left ankle and bruised his left calf Friday against Chicago.

The Bucks were hoping to rebound after a tough road trip, when they lost three of five. But they lost their fourth straight at home for the first time since February 2000 and missed a chance to tie New Orleans for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

Milwaukee has a one-game lead over Miami for the fifth playoff spot.

“I thought our guys came out and played extremely hard,” Porter said. “We did everything we could to give ourselves a chance to win the game.”

The Bucks led 87-78 with less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter. But Yao scored six points in a 12-2 run that gave Houston a 90-89 lead with 1:12 to go.

Desmond Mason, who finished with 19 points, made a layup to give Milwaukee a one-point lead with 42.7 left. Jackson and Francis missed back-to-back 3-point attempts, and Mason made one of two at the line with 2.9 seconds left to make it 92-90.

But Francis redeemed himself, driving the left baseline and sinking a layup at the buzzer to force overtime.

“We practice that play every day,” Francis said. “I was looking to take the jump shot, but one of their guys had jumped up. I was able to get to the

Notes

Jackson and Mobley also were called for technicals in the second and third quarter respectively. … Dan Gadzuric failed to score in six minutes for Milwaukee after missing one game with a sprained right ankle. … Clarence Weatherspoon tied his season high by scoring 12 points, all in the first half. … Houston had lost four of six, including a 23-point defeat at MemphisFriday.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Houston
S. Francis S. Francis
5-10,  23 Pts
10 Rebs, 8 Assists
 Milwaukee
M. Redd M. Redd
14-29,  36 Pts
14 Rebs, 3 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists