I’ve been out of the country this whole week, so I have missed the first two Rockets preseason games. Well, actually, I tried to watch Thursday’s game against the Spurs using my Slingbox, but the video was so choppy being on the other side of the world, I had to give it up.
However, I’ve scoured the Net and read that Yao did okay. In a 90-87 Rockets win, he played 12 minutes and 48 seconds, going 2-for-8 from the field for 5 points, both on layups and pick-and-rolls with Aaron Brooks. He also grabbed 7 boards and blocked 3 shots. He also had two turnovers, which is to be expected after the long layoff from game action.
Click here for more photos from the game, including photos that Raymond posted of Yao going up against Rockets rookie Patrick Patterson in pre-game.
Tim Duncan had the following to say about how Yao looked:
“I thought he looked pretty good. He’s still working himself into shape, but he still has his touch. The basketball stuff will come with time.”
The post-game interview responses that Yao provided were the same as what we’ve been hearing from him the past couple of weeks since training camp began: “One step a day.” But he did make a comparison to his first game on Tuesday against Orlando:
“I just tried to be a little more active than the first game. I tested myself in the first game, and I tried to do a little bit more.”
Encouraging was the progress of Yao’s backup Jordan Hill, (at least while Brad Miller is out with a sprained ankle). Here’s what Rick Adelman had to say after Tuesday’s game in which he scored 16 points, a career high with the Rockets, on 6-of-9 shooting, 3 rebounds, but 5 turnovers.
“He’s the most athletic big guy we have. We need him to be that. By the same token, he needs to be consistent. He can’t be up and down. It’s got to be a consistent effort.”
“He was OK. He’s got to be more consistent. We talked about that. He made some fouls he didn’t have to make. He’s got to be more consistent in his concentration. He gave the effort and he was effective. You’ve just got to see growth in him.”
The Rockets play a back-to-back this weekend. Yao will play the first game, sit out the next game, then immediately after the game they will leave for China to play two games against New Jersey. I can only imagine how tired they will be after getting off a 14-hour flight (maybe longer) right after playing a pre-season game. It’s all part of the glamor of playing on one of China’s favorite NBA teams.