Houston Community News >> Year of Yao in the NBA

12/17/2006 HOUSTON (AP) - Yao Ming always is looking ahead. Yao, the Houston Rockets center, is off to the best start of his career, averaging 26.5 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. He is shooting 51 percent from the field, 86 percent from the free throw line and has blocked 52 shots in the Rockets' first 23 games.

All-Star teammate Tracy McGrady has said repeatedly that Yao is the best center in basketball, and coaches and players who have faced the Rockets this season agree.

Last Saturday, after Yao scored a season-high 38 points and blocked six shots in Washington, Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said Yao "has an arsenal that I haven't seen before" -- and Jordan played with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the early 1980s.

Yao scored 38 again Thursday night and grabbed a season-high 18 rebounds in the Rockets' 109-107 loss at Golden State. And he had 35 points, 15 rebounds and a career-high eight blocked shots in Friday night's 112-101 double-overtime loss to the Lakers.

"He is probably the best big man in the game right now," said Warriors center Adonal Foyle. "He has the total package. He scored 38 and hardly broke a sweat."

But Yao, in his fifth NBA season and only 26, shrugs off the accolades he's beginning to hear routinely.

"The last month, I've played well. I'm playing very confidently," he said. "But I'm worried about today and tomorrow, not yesterday."

(Contributed by AP)