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Yao, Rockets pick up rare road win vs. Spurs

Dec 23, 2006 - 7:01 AM SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets were in uncharted territory.

Yao collected 22 points and seven rebounds and Bonzi Wells added 15 off the bench as the Rockets contained Tim Duncan and routed the San Antonio Spurs, 97-78.

Luther Head had seven points and 11 assists for Houston, which shot 51 percent (38-of-74) from the field to pick up its first win against the Spurs on the road in almost 10 years.

"I'm really proud of my teammates, they did a great job," Yao said. "The team really stepped up in the second half and showed lots of energy. We don't have a very good record on road trips so (Friday's) win is nice. It was a very big night for me. We really stuck together and didn't leave any team members behind."

The last time the Rockets won in San Antonio, they were led by Hall of Famer Charles Barkley and all-time great Hakeem Olajuwon on April 20, 1997. Yao did his best to impersonate Olajuwon, using an array of low-post moves, including his usual soft touch from the baseline.

"Yao played well and the guys did a good job getting the ball inside to him," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "The team was more prepared to make solid impacts right away. This team can play well as long as we stay poised and disciplined."

Yao shot 8-of-15 from the floor and 6-of-6 from the line, and helped stymie Duncan, who was just 4-of-13 from the field.

"Yao is definitely a pillar on this team," Rockets forward Shane Battier said. "We always try to get him going early by getting him the ball in the first quarter. Yao is such an efficient player you have to utilize a talent like his."

Manu Ginobili scored 23 points for the Spurs, who shot just 40 percent (29-of-72).

"It was a frustrating night because offensively we couldn't get anything done and defensively it was basically the same," Ginobili said. "They started really strong, moving the ball and feeding Yao in the post."

San Antonio will get a chance to turn it around on Saturday vs. New Orleans.

"I think it's a great thing to play (Saturday)," Ginobili said. "We are upset. We didn't play good. We kind of wandered around for a whole half. Against a good team like Houston, it can't happen."

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