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Rockets’ Yao Sprains Knee in Game

January 12, 2003

HOUSTON (AP) _ Yao Ming sprained his left knee in the first quarter of Houston’s game against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night, an injury that wasn’t considered serious.

``Yao’s done,″ coach Rudy Tomjanovich announced to the Rockets during a timeout early in the second quarter.

The 7-foot-6 center from China had six points and six rebounds in 11 minutes. He told team officials he injured his knee while fighting for position with Nuggets center Nene Hilario with 7:40 remaining in the first quarter. Yao, who was called for a foul on the play, stayed in the game for almost seven more minutes before leaving for good.

Rockets spokesman Nelson Luis said Yao’s injury was not serious, and the team did not plan to have the knee X-rayed. Yao will be re-evaluated Sunday.

Yao has played in all 35 of Houston’s games, averaging 13.2 points and 8.1 rebounds. The Rockets’ next game is Monday night against Boston, and Yao is scheduled to face Shaquille O’Neal for the first time when the Lakers visit Houston on Friday night.

The Rockets were also without power forward Maurice Taylor, who had a sore Achilles tendon. Additionally, Glen Rice left the game midway through the third quarter with a strained left shoulder.

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