Houston Community News >> Yao Ming NBA's Dominant Big Man?

11/23/2006 -- After a practice earlier this week, New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets coach Byron Scott was asked if he thought Houston's Yao Ming had passed Miami's Shaquille O'Neal as the NBA's most dominant center.

Scott looked at the inquisitor sideways and said, "Shaq is still the league's most dominant player. Yao's a great player, there's no doubt about that. Shaq's not head-and-shoulders over Yao, but to me he's still the most dominant player."

The question was posed because Yao is averaging 26.4 points and 10.3 rebounds this season. O'Neal, who is out after having knee surgery that will sideline him 4-6 weeks, is averaging 14.0 points and 7.5 rebounds.

The Rockets won 94-72 at Miami on Nov. 12, when Yao had 34 points and 14 rebounds and O'Neal had 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Scott's thoughts on that day's mismatch?

"I think every dog has his day," Scott said. "Even a (blind) squirrel is going to get his nut every now and then."

Scott defending O'Neal's honor was timely because on Monday night, the 7-6, 310-pound Yao had his shot blocked by 5-9 New York Knicks guard Nate Robinson.

Yao was hit in the face on the play, but it appeared to happen on Robinson's follow-through after the shot.

"I thought it was a foul," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy told the New York Daily News.

Knicks coach Isiah Thomas responded, "The Knicks, we never foul."

Yao claimed he didn't know who blocked the shot.

"Oh, it was him?" Yao said of Robinson. "All I saw was a big finger in my eye. I don't know who blocked me. I was blocked by a 5-3 guy before, so that's not the record."

Robinson shrugged off his high-flying act and said, "You just have to guard the hoop. You can't let them score. That is the motto. I did my job."

(Contributed by Scripps Howard News)