SHANGHAI, Oct. 14 (Ticker) -- Yao Ming
received a hero's welcome.
The same can't be said for Jeff Van Gundy
Yao scored 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 26 minutes
before Van Gundy kept him on the bench for the entire fourth
quarter as the Houston Rockets edged the Sacramento Kings,
88-86, in the first NBA game played in China.
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The 7-5 Yao is the feature attraction in the two China Games
being staged by the NBA. Fans waited in line last month for 40
hours to buy tickets for Yao's return to his hometown of
But the overflow crowd of 11,333 at Shanghai's city gymnasium
didn't affect the way Van Gundy coached the preseason game for
the Rockets. With the fans chanting for Yao in the fourth
quarter, Van Gundy kept him as well as Tracy McGrady, who made
just 3-of-11 shots for 12 points, on the bench.
Yao excited the crowd with a dunk in the first quarter, but made
just 4-of-10 shots from the field. He converted all six of his
free throws and had one blocked shot, but committed five
turnovers and was whistled for four fouls.
"I felt really nervous out there," Yao said. "But I was very
happy to play again for the fans in Shanghai."
While Yao and McGrady sat, David Hawkins, a rookie from Temple,
gave Houston the lead for good, 85-84, flipping a layup high off
the backboard with 1:24 remaining. After Sacramento's David
Bluthenthal missed a 3-point attempt, Reece Gaines converted a
pair of free throws with 34 seconds remaining to increase the
lead to 87-84. Gaines was acquired in the seven-player deal
which brought McGrady to Houston.
made a pair of free throws to pull Sacramento
within 87-86. The Kings then fouled Tyronn Lue, who made 1-of-2
free throws with 5.6 seconds left.
Juwan Howard, who was also acquired in the McGrady trade,
blocked a shot by Songaila in the final seconds to preserve the
Brad Miller led the Kings with 19 points and Mike Bibby added
17. Chris Webber had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
The teams will play again Sunday in Beijing.