Yao scored 29 points and led the Houston Rockets to a 100-84
victory over the Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday night, and in the
process, showed Portland's 7-foot-3 rookie a thing or two about the
Yao's hook shot with 7:54 left gave the Rockets a 94-69 lead,
for their biggest margin of the rout. Tracy McGrady added 26 points
and 10 rebounds for the Rockets, who have won six of their last
With such a lopsided score, the focus was on the dual between
Yao, who is 7-6, simply overwhelmed the 19-year-old Korean
rookie with physical play and a humbling blocked shot. Ha, who came
in the game with 4:25 left in the first quarter, was appearing in
just his 10th game for the Blazers.
"He's only 19," Yao said. "When I was 19, I don't think I
could play at this level. He's got potential."
Ha was selected by Portland in the second round, 46th overall,
of last year's draft. The first Korean to play in the NBA, Ha did
not score, but had four rebounds in 15 minutes.
"The thing I didn't want to have happen was him to be
starry-eyed with Yao," Blazers coach Kevin Pritchard said. "I
don't think he did. He was battling and he got a few fouls and I
was happy about that because he didn't back down."
Ha and Yao were able to chat briefly during the game. Yao asked
Ha if his parents had come with him to the United States.
"It was a good experience," Ha said through a translator. "I
have no idea what I did. This is just the first step."
Pritchard said the Blazers would go over film of the matchup
with Ha. Earlier in the season, Ha missed a chance to play against
another 7-footer, Shaquille O'Neal. Ha entered Portland's second of
two games against Miami in the final minute, just as O'Neal left.
Houston, in fifth place in the West, wrapped up its road trip
3-1 and will play six of its final 10 games at home.
McGrady scored 44 points in the Rockets' 99-85 victory over Utah
on Monday, showing no signs of a right hip strain that had been
bothering him recently. It was his fifth game with 40 or more
points this season.
With Houston's sizable lead, McGrady did not play in the fourth
quarter against the Blazers, who were led by Shareef Abdur-Rahim
with 21 points.
Portland finished the season winless against the Rockets, the
first time Houston has swept the Blazers since 1993-94.
The Trail Blazers snapped a seven-game losing streak with a
103-96 win over New York on Saturday before a 114-106 loss to
Washington on Monday night eliminated Portland from the playoffs
for the second straight year after a string of 21 straight seasons
in postseason play.
The Blazers have lost 13 of 15 games under Pritchard, who took
over on an interim basis after Portland fired coach Maurice
While the Blazers focus on young players, their veterans
are recovering from injuries. Center Theo Ratliff had a sore
shoulder and guard Derek Anderson had a sore back, and did not
dress. Darius Miles injured his hand against Washington on Monday,
and did not play. Forward Zach Randolph (knee) and guard Nick Van
Exel (arthritic left knee) are on the injured list. "With all
their injuries, we just didn't want to take these guys lightly,"
McGrady said. "I told Yao before the game that we needed him to
score early, and he did." ... The Rockets improved to 22-15 on the
road. ... Pritchard said Ruben Patterson played despite a bout with