Yao humbles Shaq in Rockets win

Updated: 2006-11-13 13:53

MIAMI - Shaquille O'Neal was dominated, but he wasn't impressed. Yao Ming won his matchup with O'Neal, finishing with 34 points and 14 rebounds Sunday night to lead the Houston Rockets to their fourth straight victory, 94-72 over the Miami Heat.

Miami Heat Antoine Walker (L) pulls Houston Rockets Yao Ming shirt as he goes up for a shot during fourth quarter NBA basketball action in Miami, Florida November 12, 2006.
Miami Heat Antoine Walker (L) pulls Houston Rockets Yao Ming shirt as he goes up for a shot during fourth quarter NBA basketball action in Miami, Florida November 12, 2006. [Reuters]
"He's pretty much the same, just big, 7-6," O'Neal said. "He's just doing what he's supposed to do."

Yao scored 20 points in the second half, when Houston outscored Miami by 25 points.

"My only chance against Shaq is to keep him on the run," Yao said. "Shaq is much stronger and bigger than me. My only chance on beating him is to keep running and running against him.

"Every time I score on him I was happy like a kid, like a kid getting candy on Halloween because it's really too hard to score on him, too hard. He's just great."

Dwyane Wade led Miami with 24 points, but had only eight in the second half, when Miami shot 33 percent.

"We were a little flat on offense, our offense wasn't as crisp," Wade said. "Yao hit some tough shots to give them the lead. They were good."

O'Neal's field goal early in the third quarter moved him past Patrick Ewing for 14th on the NBA's career scoring list with 24,817 points. But he finished with only 15 points and now has 24,820 in his career.

Yao frustrated the Heat with short jumpers and layups. He shot 11-of-19 from the field and 12-of-13 from the free throw line. His second-half dominance revived the Rockets after their first-half struggles.

Tracy McGrady was only 6-of-18 from the field but finished with eight assists.

"That is the a sign of a good team, when you struggle offensively in the first half and you come out in the fourth quarter and do everything right," McGrady said.

Shane Battier and Luther Head each finished with 11 points for Houston.

"We did a good job defensively, we did a good job keeping them out of the lane and keeping them off the free throw line," Battier said.

After trailing nearly the entire first half, the Rockets outscored the Heat 21-14 in the third quarter and never trailed after Rafer Alston's 3-pointer for a 58-56 lead with 1:27 remaining in the period.

The Rockets ran off 11 straight points during the final 2:48 of the third quarter and first 1:39 of the fourth period for a 64-58 lead. Head hit consecutive 3-pointers and Yao's driving layup increased the Rockets' advantage to 76-66 with 5:21 remaining.

Kirk Snyder's two free throws with 1:27 remaining in the game finished another 11-point run and gave the Rockets a 91-70 lead.

"It was two different halves for us," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "We got our heads handed to us in the second half."

The Rockets lost forward Chuck Hayes to a left knee injury when he collided with O'Neal with 5:05 remaining in the third period. Hayes was taken to the dressing room and didn't return.

After a brief 6-4 lead early in the game, the Rockets trailed most of the first half. But Yao scored six points and Shane Battier added four in a 10-2 run as Houston went ahead 36-35 with 4 minutes remaining in the second quarter.

Gary Payton and Alston were each assessed technical fouls for their brief shoving match in front of the Miami bench with 29 seconds remaining in the first half.

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