You have to wonder what the critics will say now.
"Yeah, but... but... Shaq will kill him!"
Facing up against David Robinson and Tim Duncan, the Twin Towers of San Antonio, Yao Ming stood the tallest, leading the Rockets past the Spurs 89-75 Tuesday night in the Compaq Center and putting Houston percentage points ahead of the Spurs for second place in the Midwest at 10-7.
All I can say is: Finally. Yao got the ball in this cursed offense, and was awesome with it.
He hit 10-18 shots for 27 huge points and grabbed a career high 18 rebounds, 2 over the previous mark of 16 he set against the Mavs on November 21st. If that wasn't enough, he rejected 3 shots and dished 3 dimes, to boot.
Six of Yao's 18 boards were offensive, and not a one was bigger than when he cleaned glass with just over 3 minutes to go, snaring a Francis miss and throwing it back down for the jam, drawing a roar from the crowd.
Even yet today some columnists continue with the ignorant chime that Yao is or will be a bust, so it will be interesting to see how they dance around the fact that a rookie center just dropped 27 and 18 against the likes of Duncan and Robinson..
Duncan had his night also, putting up 25 and 12, but he went to the line a staggering 16 times, missing 7 of the freebies, and was 8-21 from the floor.
In fact, none of the Spurs shot well, with Tony Parker going just 3-13. The Rockets held San Antonio to 34% shooting.
Steve Francis played the entire 48 minutes, scoring 18 points and grabbing 6 boards, but committed more turnovers (7) than he had assists (6), and was partcularly a problem early in the third when the Rockets committed 6 turnovers before hitting even the halfway mark of the period, watching the Spurs take the lead after being down 10 at half.
Moochie Norris had a big offensive game off the pine, dropping in 18 on 7-9 from the floor to gi with 5 assists. Fans have been ruthless towards him lately (and frankly his play has been less than stellar) so perhaps this will buy him some good graces.
Not a single one of the Rocket power forwards played 20 minutes or more. Kenny Thomas had 10 points and 4 boards, Maurice Taylor was just 0-3 from the floor in 12 minutes and Eddie Griffin had 7 points and 3 blocks in 17 minutes, including a dagger in the heart triple late to seal the game.
Regarding Griffin, he's been burned lately by top power forwards such as Elton Brand and Chris Webber, but you have to remember he's just 20 years old. His confidence is probably the biggest thing right now, and I think it was just shot to hell on the road trip. Note that in 7 games at home, Eddie is averaging 13 points, 7.6 boards and 2.4 blocks while shooting 49.3% from the floor. In 9 games on the road, Eddie is putting up 5.0 points, 4.2 boards, 1.33 blocks and is shooting 26.5%.