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Yao's injury rocks Rockets in Indiana

A KNEE injury to Yao Ming helped the Indiana Pacers to a 107-102 win over the Houston Rockets on Friday.

Indiana took advantage of Yao's absence by going to the free-throw line at will against his much-smaller replacements.

Yao, the Houston Rockets' 2.29-meter center, left Friday night's game in Indianapolis because of a sore right knee and did not play after halftime. The Pacers made 26 free throws in the second half.

Yao missed much of the second quarter while sitting on the bench with an ice pack on the knee. He returned later in the quarter, but couldn't go after being examined at halftime. Houston coach Rick Adelman said Yao's absence hurt because his backup, 2.18-meter Dikembe Mutombo, didn't match up well with the Pacers.

"It makes us small," Adelman said. "They (the Pacers) get to the basket. That's a tough team to play Dikembe against because they're so active."

Yao said he hurt the knee early in the first quarter. He said X-rays revealed no breaks.

"I'll see how I feel tomorrow," he said. "It was just a knee-to-knee hit...I felt a little bit funny after the first play."

Houston already was missing Tracy McGrady and Ron Artest because of injuries. Artest missed his 13th game of the season because of a bone bruise in his right ankle. McGrady sat out his 16th game with a sore left knee.

Danny Granger scored 25 points to lead Indiana.

T.J. Ford added 21 for the Pacers, and Troy Murphy had 14 points and 16 rebounds.

Elsewhere in the National Basketball Association games, it was: Cavaliers 106, Warriors 105; Mavericks 112, Pistons 91; Spurs 94, Nets 91; Hawks 117, Bucks 87; Bobcats 98, Suns 76; Timberwolves 116, Hornets 108; Raptors 114, Bulls 94; Knicks 108, Grizzlies 88; and Clippers 107, Thunder 104.

In Oakland, California, LeBron James nailed a 19-footer as time expired to lift Cleveland to a thrilling victory over Golden State.

James scored eight of his game-high 32 points in the final five minutes, including the game-clinching jumper, the first buzzer-beater of his career.

"We knew it was going to the wire, I guess tonight whoever had the ball last was going to win the ball game," James told reporters after a hard-fought encounter that witnessed six lead changes in the final 90 seconds.

"The Warriors are a very explosive team but we got the win."

Cleveland's victory spoiled the return of Warriors guard Monta Ellis, who played in his first game of the season - after missing 43 games with an ankle injury.

Ellis had 20 points on 8-for-19 shooting while Stephen Jackson led Golden State (13-31) with 24 points and gave his team a 105-104 lead after putting in a 23-foot shot with six seconds remaining.

However, James had the final say and added nine rebounds and eight assists as Cleveland (33-8) won its second game in a row of a West Coast road trip. The Cavaliers had four players in double figures scoring, including Mo Williams' 14 points.

Corey Maggette recorded 23 points and eight rebounds for the Warriors, who lost their second straight despite getting a boost from the arrival of Ellis.


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