Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 12/3

Game 1: Tuesday, December 3rd
Game 2: Monday, January 20th
Game 3: Sunday, March 2nd
Game 4: Thursday, March 27th

Spurs 75


Rockets 89


    Coverage: KRRT

    7:30 PM ET, December 3, 2002

    1 2 3 4 T
    SA 21 18 25 1175
    HOU 21 28 12 2889

    Top Performers

    San Antonio: T. Duncan 25 Pts, 12 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 Blk

    Houston: Y. Ming 27 Pts, 18 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Blk

    Yao posts 27 points, 18 rebounds against twin towers

    HOUSTON (AP) -- Yao Ming got all the motivation he needed just from reading the starting lineups.

    Yao Ming, right, shows some defensive prowess vs. Tim Duncan.

    Matched against David Robinson and Tim Duncan, Yao scored 27 points, grabbed a season-high 18 rebounds and added a crowd-pleasing slam in the closing minutes to lead the Rockets to an 89-75 victory Tuesday night.

    ''It might have been because I knew I was going up against two great centers,'' Yao said, explaining his performance. ''When I first got to the NBA I had a lot to think about. To get this victory, it's like being able to take a deep breath.''

    After leading much of the game, the Rockets trailed 64-61 going into the fourth quarter. But they quickly regained the lead and won going away as the Spurs went scoreless over the final 2:43.

    Yao rebounded a miss by Steve Francis with 3:04 to go and slammed it home, one of several highlight shots in the game. Francis added 18 points and six assists and Moochie Norris had 16 points.

    ''He played great. He was all over the boards,'' Robinson said of Yao. ''He shot the ball well and he moved the ball around with his passing. He was a handful. He was the difference in the game.''

    Duncan had 25 points and 12 rebounds for the Spurs, while former Rocket Kevin Willis added 12 points.

    ''He was impressive tonight,'' Duncan said of Yao. ''He's got a great touch and he's bigger in person than you think he is. He shot the ball better than I thought he could. We had a hand in his face and it didn't matter. He played great tonight.''

    Houston built a 49-39 halftime lead on the first-half shooting of Yao and Norris, but that 10-point edge faded in a 16-4 run by San Antonio to start the third quarter. Duncan scored eight consecutive Spurs points, and his two free throws gave the Spurs a 55-53 lead with 5:35 to go in the quarter.

    Yao put on an entertaining show in the first half against David Robinson and Duncan.

    Yao sank a jumper over Robinson and Duncan for his second basket of the game and drew a foul on Robinson in the process.

    In the second quarter, Yao took a pass from Norris and then passed it back to him in the lane for an easy layup. Moments later Francis slipped a pass back to Yao under the basket for a slam.

    Yao had 17 points at the half and Norris scored 12 second-quarter points to help the Rockets to their 10-point halftime lead.

    ''He played very well, obviously,'' Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. ''He did a great job of playing a complete basketball game. He's a natural. He's going to be a big-time force in this league. Anyone who thought differently is few and far between now.''

    The Spurs had only 11 points in the fourth quarter.

    ''We shot poorly in the fourth quarter,'' Popovich said. ''I thought a lot of ways we played well. We had fewer turnovers and got to the free-throw line more than they did. On the road, that's normally what you need to win, but when you shoot 34 percent for the game that isn't going to get it done.''

    Game notes

    The Rockets' bench has scored at least 20 points in 10 consecutive games, including 40 against the Spurs. They have outscored their counterparts seven times. ... Yao and Duncan are among six players born outside the United States to be selected first overall in the NBA draft. ...Rudy Tomjanovich needs one more victory to tie Alex Hannum for 24th on the career victory list with 471.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 75 89
    FGM-FGA 25-73 (.342) 35-77 (.455)
    3PM-3PA 1-7 (.143) 2-8 (.250)
    FTM-FTA 24-35 (.686) 17-18 (.944)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 13-36 18-53
    Assists 9 19
    Turnovers 7 17
    Steals 9 4
    Blocks 5 7
    Fast Break Points 3 4
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 21 (2/0) 24 (1/0)

    Top Performers

    San Antonio
    Tim Duncan Duncan
    Points: 25
    Reb: 12
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 2
    Yao Ming Ming
    Points: 27
    Reb: 18
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 3