LOS ANGELES, May 5 – China's giant centre Yao Ming played through the pain of a sore knee to finish with 28 points and 10 rebounds as Houston defeated Los Angeles 100-92 in the opening game of their playoff series."I think we were hungry to win the first game," Yao said. "We respect them and we know they will come back strong in game two but tonight we were hungry."
Yao briefly left the first game of the NBA quarter-final series with a knee injury in the closing minutes but returned after seeking medical treatment from the Rockets’ trainer. He bumped knees on defence while guarding Kobe Bryant.
"Actually the injury doesn’t not that hurt. Moment got hit felt bad just need to walk around.
Said Houston coach Rick Adelman, "I don’t know what our trainer did to Yao but like Rocky coming back out there. We really needed him.
Ron Artest added 21 points and Aaron Brooks had 19 for the Rockets.
Bryant, who finished a distant second to LeBron James in NBA MVP voting announced earlier Monday, scored 32 points, doing his best to keep the Lakers in the game despite missing practice on Sunday with a sore throat.
"Our defence was great. You have to give (Shane) Battier and Ron Artest credit for doing a great job guarding Kobe. Obviously we need to put more effort into game two.
Houston forward Battier needed four stitches to close a gash over his left eye late in the first quarter.
Adelman said they did their homework and it paid off on Monday.
"We knew Kobe was going to turn it up late in the game," Adelman said.
"We knew everything. We just tried to keep him from getting to the rim. He put his head down and got there at end of the game. It is obvious that if he gets rim it is really difficult for the other team."