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
pretty much the same, just big, 7-6," O'Neal said. "He's just doing what he's
supposed to do."
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]
Yao scored 20 points in the second half, when Houston outscored Miami by 25
"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
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
"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,"
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