|Dwight Howard coughs up the ball as Houston's Yao Ming (right) and Shane Battier (left) apply the pressure. (Bob levey/Associated Press)|
Orlando thrown for a loss
Yao Ming scored 20 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, outplaying Dwight Howard and leading the Rockets to a 93-83 victory over the Magic last night in Houston to drop Orlando one game behind the second-place Celtics in the Eastern Conference.
Ron Artest had 16 points and matched a season high with seven assists, and reserve Von Wafer scored 14 points for the Rockets, who stayed a half-game behind San Antonio in the race for the Southwest Division title.
Howard had 13 points and 10 rebounds but went 3 for 9 from the free throw line for the Magic, who opened the game 4 for 12 from the field.
Rafer Alston had 15 points and three assists in his first game in Houston since he was traded to Orlando Feb. 19 in a deal that brought Kyle Lowry to the Rockets. The Magic are 18-6 with Alston as their point guard.
Hawks 118, Raptors 110 - Josh Smith had 25 points and seven rebounds, and Atlanta used 11-for-22 shooting from 3-point range to beat host Toronto.
The Hawks (44-34), trying to secure the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, also got 25 points from Joe Johnson and 17 from Maurice Evans. Mike Bibby added 13 points and 10 assists, while Al Horford chipped in 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Chris Bosh had 21 points and 10 rebounds for his eighth consecutive double-double and 40th this season, and Shawn Marion added 18 points, but the Raptors lost their second in a row after winning six straight.
Bobcats 101, 76ers 98 - Gerald Wallace scored 29 points, including the final 4 of the game, and Charlotte beat visiting Philadelphia to snap a three-game losing streak.
Raymond Felton scored a career-high 32 points and the Bobcats recovered after blowing a 20-point lead.
Charlotte moved within 2 1/2 games of idle Detroit for the final playoff spot in the East with four games left.
Hornets 93, Heat 87 - Rasual Butler hit a tying 3-pointer with no time remaining in regulation, David West hit the winning jumper with 8.8 seconds left in overtime, and visiting New Orleans stunned Miami and clinched a playoff berth.
Chris Paul finished with 26 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists, and Peja Stojakovic added 24 points for the Hornets (48-29), who not only clinched a postseason berth but stayed in the hunt for home-court advantage in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
Spurs 99, Thunder 89 - Tim Duncan had 25 points and 15 rebounds, and Drew Gooden provided a needed lift off the bench as San Antonio beat host Oklahoma City in its first game since learning Manu Ginobili would miss the rest of the season.
Lakers 122, Kings 104 - Pau Gasol scored 26 points, Kobe Bryant added 22, and Los Angeles overcame a sluggish start to beat host Sacramento and move within a half-game of Cleveland for the NBA's best record.
Bulls 110, Knicks 103 - Kirk Hinrich scored 25 points to lead five players in double figures and Chicago used a 15-0 run in the fourth quarter to run away from visiting New York.
Trail Blazers 96, Grizzlies 93 - Travis Outlaw banked in a 14-footer with 13 seconds left to complete visiting Portland's comeback from an 18-point second-quarter deficit.
Timberwolves 87, Clippers 77 - Ryan Gomes had 24 points and 13 rebounds and Craig Smith added 16 points for visiting Minnesota.