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Nowitzki spoils Yao's return, leads Germany past China

8/11/2006 - NBA

NANJING, China -- Yao Ming returned after a four-month
layoff from a foot injury, revitalizing China in an 82-73 loss to
Dirk Nowitzki and Germany on Friday in a warmup game leading to the
world championships.

Yao scored 11 points but was no match for Nowitzki, who gave the
Houston Rockets center a playful slap on the chest at the start.
Nowitzki finished with 27 points, including 18 in the final
quarter, and 12 rebounds. The German star of the Dallas Mavericks
scored nearly at will against Yao and almost every other Chinese
player.

Yao provided an early spark, drawing a big cheer from the home
crowd with a slam at the beginning of the first quarter. With the
Houston Rockets' center on the floor, China was a completely
different team from the one that was routed 119-73 by the United
States on Monday. The world championships begin Aug. 19.

"Yao Ming is a great player. He's one of the best centers in
the world, but I was very impressed with the whole team," German
player Patrick Femerling said. "They're very mobile, agile and
versatile players."

Femerling added 10 points for Germany, the runner-up at the
European championship. Nowitzki started the night looking rusty and
needed time to find his rhythm.

Germany led 58-49 entering the fourth quarter, and then Nowitzki
took command.

"He's so good in one-on-one situations, he can always get a
shot off," Germany coach Dirk Bauermann said. "And he knows when
his best is needed the most. That was vintage Dirk Nowitzki."

China coach Jonas Kazlauskaz expects better results once Yao
practices more with his teammates.

"With Yao on the court, the rest of the team also began to
improve," Kazlauskaz said. "Still, we have some problems. But it
was much better."