HOUSTON, Dec. 19 (Ticker) --
Less than two months into his NBA career,
already is good enough to be a target.
NBA TV highlights from|
Yao collected 29 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks while taking
a hard hit from Brad Miller
as the Houston Rockets pulled away
for a 95-83 victory over the Indiana Pacers.
The 7-5 sensation continues to dominate with his size and skill
as he made 10-of-15 shots and 9-of-10 free throws. He scored 11
points in the fourth quarter, including five in a row that gave
the Rockets some breathing room.
After a driving dunk by Ron Artest
pulled the Pacers within
78-76 with 3:21 to play, Yao headfaked and went under a defender
for a scoop bank shot 12 seconds later.
On the next possession, Yao took a pass in the deep low post as
Miller's knee banged into that of All-Star teammate Jermaine
. As O'Neal went down, Miller stepped around him and
hacked Yao across the head and neck, knocking him to the floor.
"Everybody's trying to win the game," Yao said through an
interpreter. "I wouldn't say he was trying to hurt me."
"Yao was just fantastic," Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said.
"He's a creative player. It got very physical. I think he
learned something from our last game in Miami. He's a versatile
Yao remained down for several seconds before slowly getting up.
O'Neal was in much worse condition, suffering an apparent knee
injury, and had to be carried to the locker room.
"I didn't see (O'Neal) at all," Miller said. "Yao went over my
back to get the rebound and I was just trying to make sure he
didn't make a layup."
"They were trying to beat him up," Rockets guard Cuttino Mobley
said. "When he gets a little bit stronger, it's going to be
scary. He's learning so fast."
Miller was called for a flagrant-1 foul, and Yao made 1-of-2
free throws. On the ensuing possession, he buried a turnaround
jumper for an 83-76 lead with 2:06 to go. The Pacers got no
closer than five points thereafter.
"I knew they were trying to pass the ball to me more tonight,"
Yao said. "This was one of the most exciting games I've had."
scored 19 points and Mobley had 12 of his 14 in
the final period for the Rockets, who avenged a season-opening
loss at Indiana.
In that game, Yao did not score and grabbed two rebounds in 11
minutes, another illustration of how far his game has come in
such a short time.
"I said after the first game to just give him time," Pacers
coach Isiah Thomas said. "I said, `Once he figures it out, he
will be good.' He's a load and he's tough to deal with. He's
got everything. He has no real weakness."
"He's tough. He's so tall," Miller added. "When we played them
last, he only had one move. Now he's playing with confidence
and his teammates have a lot of confidence in him. They went to
him late in the game. He's not a selfish player. He's a good
passer for a big man and he gives them opportunities to make
O'Neal scored 27 points and Artest added 23 for the Pacers, who
have lost consecutive games for just the second time this
season. O'Neal will be re-examined Thursday morning in
Powered by 11 points each from Yao and Francis, the Rockets led
46-34 at halftime. But they made just 4-of-18 shots while
committing eight turnovers in the third quarter and entered the
final period clinging to a 58-56 lead.
There were four ties and four lead changes in the fourth
quarter. Mobley's first hoop of the game was a 3-pointer that
gave Houston a 66-65 edge with 8:54 left. Reggie Miller's
3-pointer gave Indiana a 71-70 lead with 6:09 to go, and O'Neal
added a free throw.
Yao tied it with a hook and Mobley sank another 3-pointer to
give the Rockets the lead for good at 75-72 with 4:43 to play.
Brad Miller made two foul shots, but Mobley drove for a
three-point play before Yao took over.
scored 12 points and Eddie Griffin
grabbed 10 boards
for the Rockets, who held a staggering 60-34 advantage on the
"The whole game, we could not rebound the basketball," Thomas
said. "If you can't rebound, you can't win. The way we got
outrebounded, we should not even have been in the game."
"They outhustled us," Brad Miller said. "A lot of times we were
two inches away from the rebound and they still got it. They
came out more determined than we were."
Griffin and fellow forward Maurice Taylor
should see increased
playing time with the trade Wednesday of forward Kenny Thomas
Philadelphia. In a three-team deal, the Rockets received guard