Defending Yao

HOUSTON — The Rockets won Game 1 in part because Yao Ming, their 7-foot-6 center, ran amok. He scored 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. They didn’t win Games 2 and 3 because the Lakers held him down quite a bit better. Yao scored 12 points and took 10 rebounds in Game 2, which the Lakers won. He had 19 points and 14 rebounds in Game 3, which the Lakers also won. Now, there’s nothing wrong with 19 and 14, but …

“We did what we wanted to do against him, making him work and do other things than just post up,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said after tonight’s 108-94 victory in Game 3 at the Toyota Center.

What’s more, Yao limped noticeably in the fourth quarter with an injured ankle. He later said he was hurt in the second quarter “and it was just getting worse and worse. Tomorrow we will have a running test. If everything is all right I will play Sunday.”

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