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Wednesday December 1, 2010 12:44 PM

Yao, Brooks On The Mend

Injured players starting to see light at the end of the injury tunnel

Jason Friedman
Rockets.com

HOUSTON - While the Rockets are working hard to get back on track, two of their top players are working just as hard to get back on the court.

For several weeks now, Yao Ming and Aaron Brooks have been engaged in a friendly competition to return to action after suffering through their respective ankle injuries. As it stands now, it appears as if the Rockets’ big man has the inside track.

Yao went through Houston’s shootaround Wednesday while the team prepared for its matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s a significant step for the 7-time All-Star as he recovers from a deep bone bruise in his left ankle. Even better, Yao says he’s been cleared to take part in Thursday’s practice, marking the first time he’s been allowed to go through full-contact drills since the injury he sustained on November 10 against the Washington Wizards.

“I went through the full shootaround with the team,” said Yao. “Jumping, running, pivot a little bit. Obviously it’s the first day they allowed me to play a little bit on the court, so I feel a little bit slow. But the ankle is (better).”

Though no definitive timetable is currently in place, Yao says he’s targeting Houston’s December 7 game against Detroit as a possible return to game action.

Brooks, meanwhile, has stepped up his rehab as well, as the 4th year point guard took part in shooting and sliding drills today. He says he’s definitely making progress, but since he’s still experiencing some swelling in his sprained left ankle it’s impossible to produce a firm date for his return to game action.

“Going straight and running isn’t a problem, as much as the lateral stuff and stopping,” said Brooks. “It’s better than yesterday. The movement and shooting layups that’s a little different, it’s the first time doing that. I did some slides today – that’s my first time doing that.

“It’s getting better each day. It’s been difficult. I haven’t been in this situation before. It seems like a lot of our starters have been out and I’ve always been the guy saying, ‘Hurry up and get back.’ Being in this position doesn’t feel real good.

“I think we’re shooting for the 10th (to return). The 10th would be 5 weeks (from the time of his injury); we said 4-6 (weeks), so somewhere between 4-6 weeks. I don’t know.”

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