Yao hurt again


WASHINGTON, November 11- Yao Ming suffered another injury setback while Yi Jianlian was impressive in helping Washington beat Houston 98-91 on Wednesday in the first showdown of China's NBA stars in 21 months.Yi scored 13 points, grabbed seven rebounds and matched an NBA career high with four blocked shots in 29 minutes off the bench for the Wizards while Yao was limited to only 6:14 after suffering a left tendon strain near his ankle.

Medical tests Thursday will answer the latest questions surrounding the 2.26m (7-foot-6) Houston center who has a history of foot injuries, including surgery on a broken left foot that caused him to miss the entire 2009-2010 NBA season.

"I can’t tell you anything. I’m not a medical person," Yao said. "It’s somewhere around the ankle. Tomorrow we will have the scan and a detailed check out."

Yi walked away with his first victory in five NBA matchups against Yao but was more concerned about his countryman’s health than any personal milestone.

"I feel really bad for him. I hope he is fine," Yi said. "He has had a lot of injuries. All the Chinese fans hope he gets healthy."

Houston has limited Yao to 24 minutes a game and will not allow him to play on consecutive nights in hopes of keeping him healthy.

Yi’s Wizards emerged triumphant thanks in part to a "great" Wall – 2010 NBA Draft top pick John Wall, that is.

The 20-year-old American guard scored 19 points, passed out 13 assists and grabbed 10 rebounds for his first NBA "triple double".

"He is great," Yi said. "He’s always playing good, always attacking, going for the basket every chance he gets."

Yao started for Houston, grabbing a rebound and blocking a shot early, but he was knocked to the floor twice in collisions with Wizards center JaVale McGee, once going for a rebound and again when Yao drew a charging foul call.

After McGee was whistled for the offensive foul, Yao was taken out and did not return, having never taken a shot. Two minutes later, Yi entered and spent 29 of the last 40 minutes on the floor.

"I told myself to do everything I could, work hard, focus and play defense," Yi said. "I think I did a pretty good job. The whole team played well. We are a young team and we have to play together."

Wizards coach Flip Saunders liked what he saw from Yi, patting him on the chest in the locker room after talking to reporters and telling him, "I told them you were the best player on the floor from China tonight."

More than 100 million people in China watched when Yao, 30, faced Yi, 23, for the first time in an NBA game in 2007. China’s NBA stars had not played against each other since February 17, 2009.

"I was very excited. I know a lot of people in China are watching," Yi said.

The Wizards, who rose to 2-4, lost nine of the prior 10 games against the Rockets over the past five seasons with five of the losses coming at home.

Al Thornton and Andray Blatche each scored 20 points to lead the Wizards while Kevin Martin scored 31 points for Houston and Luis Scola added 24 for the Rockets, who slid to 1-6.

With NBA legend Magic Johnson in attendance on Asian Heritage Night at the Wizards’ Chinatown arena, where colorful dragons and Chinese music and dance were proudly displayed, it was Wall who was greatest of all.

"I’m so emotional right now," Wall said. "If we keep playing defense and making rebounds that way, we’re going to be tough to beat."

Wall leads the Wizards with an average 19.4 points a game and is the first NBA rookie with at least seven assists in his first six games since Oscar Robertson in 1960.

Yao was averaging 12.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks a game while Yi was averaging 7.0 points and 2.4 rebounds a game.

The Wizards led 58-48 when Scola sparked an 11-2 Houston run, scoring six points in a span that put Houston within 60-59.

Scola scored six points in a 13-6 Houston run that put the Rockets ahead 85-84. But the Rockets went silent for more than 4:30 after taking the lead and the Wizards scored the next 10 points, six by Blatche, to seal victory.