"Yao" is longer than "Yi", and Houston Rockets showed it in a 104-88 victory over visiting Milwaukee Bucks with Yao's 28 points Saturday morning.
Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian each had their good performance in the much-anticipated first matchup of two best basketball players from China.
Yao, the all-star player of Houston Rockets, had 28 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. Yi, the sixth pick of draft 2007 by Milwaukee Bucks, had 19 points and nine rebounds. Yao's Rockets routed Yi's Bucks 104-88 on Saturday morning.
Milwaukee Bucks Yi Jianlian (L) of China and Houston Rockets' Yao Ming (R) battle for position in the fourth quarter of their NBA basketball game Nov. 9, 2007. The Rockets beat the Bucks 104-88. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
Over 200 million watched the game from TV or websites. The game starting early in the morning was an enormous event here.
Before the game, Yao and Yi shook hands at midcourt and posed for many reporters, including many Chinese photographers. It was a staged photo opportunity, and Yao waited a few minutes before Yi came out of the Bucks locker room. With a kidding smile, Yao said afterward, "You know what? Rookies should not do that."
The two slapped hands and smiled before the opening tip. The game began. Both players had impressive performance in the game. Big Yao is as good as usual and he dominated the paint in the game.
As a rookie Yi had better performance than Yao did at that time. "His talent is unbelievable," Yao said, "You ask me how good he can be? I can't say that. But I think he'll be better than me."
In an interview after the game, Yao said, "He didn't score a lot in the first half, but he turned it around in the second half. He really helped his team stay in the game."
Yi shined in the third quarter to help the Bucks close to within six, but Yao is the ace card now with his versatile ability.
"I wasn't thinking about it in terms of Yi or Yao," Yi said. "It was the Rockets against the Bucks. I was concerned about the game."
"He (Yi) is pretty good," Tracy McGrady of Houston Rockets said. "He has a tremendous upside in this league."
Yao and Yi embraced at midcourt when the final buzzer sounded. The Rockets beat the Bucks again. The Bucks have lost eight straight games in Houston and haven't won there since 1999. But this one was more about Yao and Yi than the teams involved.
Tracy McGrady got 21 points and Bonzi Wells added 18 points for Rockets. For the Bucks, Michael Redd got 26 points, Mo Williams 10 points, Desmond Mason 11 points, Andrew Bogut added 10 points. Source: Xinhua