Yao Wins in First Matchup Against Shaq
Shaq vs. Yao lived up to the hype. The first meeting between Yao Ming and Shaquille O’Neal proved it was worth all the attention as the Houston Rockets beat the Los Angeles Lakers 108-104 in overtime Friday night.
The 30-year-old O’Neal, eight years Yao’s senior, finished with the better statistical line _ 31 points, 13 rebounds and four assists to Yao’s 10 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks.
But the Rockets walked off with their season-high fourth victory in a row _ while ending the visiting Lakers’ longest winning streak of the season at five games.
``How should I put it: We beat the Lakers today, but Shaq is still Shaq,″ the 7-foot-6 Yao said of the 360-pound O’Neal. ``He’s like a truck.″
In other NBA games, it was: Milwaukee 99, Philadelphia 95; Boston 98, Indiana 93; New Jersey 88, Toronto 77; Detroit 99, New York 82; San Antonio 106, Atlanta 93; New Orleans 90, Chicago 83; Phoenix 111, Dallas 106; Denver 97, Cleveland 80; Seattle 103, Memphis 97 in overtime; and Golden State 107, Minnesota 98.
Yao blocked O’Neal’s first three shots, altered Kobe Bryant’s attempt at the end of regulation and dunked with 10.2 seconds left for the biggest basket of the night, giving Houston a 104-100 lead. The Chinese rookie made three of his first four shots in the game but then missed his next seven.
Steve Francis led the Rockets with a career-high 44 points, and Cuttino Mobley added 29. Bryant shot just 5-for-21 and had with 22 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
O’Neal scored the Lakers’ first six points of overtime, all of them with impressive power moves against Yao. The final one was a dunk with 1:27 left that cut Houston’s lead to 99-98.
O’Neal then committed a flagrant foul against Francis, and coach Phil Jackson got a technical for arguing. The three free throws made it 102-98. After Yao’s dunk, Mobley made four free throws to seal the win.
Yao and O’Neal exchanged handshakes and a brief hug as they walked off the court.
``He’s a classy guy,″ O’Neal said. ``I was looking forward to playing him. He’s a great player. It’s another challenge for me.″
Suns 111, Mavericks 106
At Phoenix, Stephon Marbury had 41 points and 11 assists, and committed no turnovers in 46 spectacular minutes as the Suns won their 11th straight at home.
Dallas, coming off a 123-94 loss at Sacramento on Wednesday night, has lost two in a row for the first time this season.
Spurs 106, Hawks 93
At San Antonio, Tim Duncan scored 27 points to help San Antonio win for sixth time in seven games.
Jason Terry scored 21 points to lead Atlanta, which lost its 13th straight road game.
Bucks 99, 76ers 95
At Philadelphia, Ray Allen scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half, leading Milwaukee to its fifth straight victory.
Philadelphia’s Eric Snow had a chance to tie it with three free throws with 2.4 seconds left, but missed his first attempt.
Celtics 98, Pacers 93
At Boston, Paul Pierce helped end Indiana’s five-game winning streak, scoring 31 points and making two key baskets.
Boston blew a 14-point lead, then came back to win after stopping Reggie Miller twice in the final 30 seconds.
Antoine Walker had 31 points and 10 rebounds for Boston.
Nets 88, Raptors 77
At East Rutherford, N.J., Jason Kidd had 18 points and five assists as the Nets beat Toronto.
Richard Jefferson added 15 points and eight rebounds, and Kenyon Martin had 13 points and eight rebounds.
Hornets 90, Bulls 83
At New Orleans, David Wesley scored a season-high 34 points and Jamal Magloire added 15 points and 14 rebounds to help the Hornets snap a five-game losing streak.
The Bulls have lost 18 straight road games and have the league’s worst road record (1-18).
Nuggets 97, Cavaliers 80
At Denver, Juwan Howard had 25 points and eight rebounds and the Nuggets started the third quarter with a 17-0 run to take control of a game between the NBA’s two worst teams.
The Nuggets converted 30 Cleveland turnovers into 32 points in a game that had been dubbed the LeBron Bowl because it could have a bearing on which team wins the No. 1 overall draft pick and the right to select high school star LeBron James.
Pistons 99, Knicks 82
At Auburn Hills, Mich., Cliff Robinson scored 22 points and the Pistons turned the game into a blowout with a 16-0 run toward the end of the third quarter.
Kurt Thomas and Shandon Anderson each scored 16 points for the Knicks, who have lost six of eight.
Warriors 107, Timberwolves 98
At Oakland, Calif., 5-foot-5 Earl Boykins, the league’s smallest player, put on another amazing show with a career-high 28 points and eight assists.
Kevin Garnett scored 22 points for the Timberwolves.
SuperSonics 103, Grizzlies 97, OT
At Seattle, Gary Payton scored seven of his 27 points in overtime to help Seattle snap a six-game losing streak.