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Yao's 34 points, 14 boards help Rockets rout Shaq, Heat

MIAMI (AP) -- Shaquille O'Neal was dominated, but he wasn't
impressed.

Yao Ming won his matchup with O'Neal, finishing with 34 points
and 14 rebounds Sunday night to lead the Houston Rockets to their
fourth straight victory, 94-72 over the Miami Heat.

"He's pretty much the same, just big, 7-6," O'Neal said.
"He's just doing what he's supposed to do."

Yao scored 20 points in the second half, when Houston outscored
Miami by 25 points.

"My only chance against Shaq is to keep him on the run," Yao
said. "Shaq is much stronger and bigger than me. My only chance on
beating him is to keep running and running against him.

"Every time I score on him I was happy like a kid, like a kid
getting candy on Halloween because it's really too hard to score on
him, too hard. He's just great."

Dwyane Wade led Miami with 24 points, but had only eight in the
second half, when Miami shot 33 percent.

"We were a little flat on offense, our offense wasn't as
crisp," Wade said. "Yao hit some tough shots to give them the
lead. They were good."

O'Neal's field goal early in the third quarter moved him past
Patrick Ewing for 14th on the NBA's career scoring list with 24,817
points. But he finished with only 15 points and now has 24,820 in
his career.

Yao frustrated the Heat with short jumpers and layups. He shot
11-of-19 from the field and 12-of-13 from the free throw line. His
second-half dominance revived the Rockets after their first-half
struggles.

Tracy McGrady was only 6-of-18 from the field but finished with
eight assists.

"That is the a sign of a good team, when you struggle
offensively in the first half and you come out in the fourth
quarter and do everything right," McGrady said.

Shane Battier and Luther Head each finished with 11 points for
Houston.

"We did a good job defensively, we did a good job keeping them
out of the lane and keeping them off the free throw line," Battier
said.

After trailing nearly the entire first half, the Rockets
outscored the Heat 21-14 in the third quarter and never trailed
after Rafer Alston's 3-pointer for a 58-56 lead with 1:27 remaining
in the period.

The Rockets ran off 11 straight points during the final 2:48 of
the third quarter and first 1:39 of the fourth period for a 64-58
lead. Head hit consecutive 3-pointers and Yao's driving layup
increased the Rockets' advantage to 76-66 with 5:21 remaining.

Kirk Snyder's two free throws with 1:27 remaining in the game
finished another 11-point run and gave the Rockets a 91-70 lead.

"It was two different halves for us," Heat coach Pat Riley
said. "We got our heads handed to us in the second half."

The Rockets lost forward Chuck Hayes to a left knee injury when
he collided with O'Neal with 5:05 remaining in the third period.
Hayes was taken to the dressing room and didn't return.

After a brief 6-4 lead early in the game, the Rockets trailed
most of the first half. But Yao scored six points and Shane Battier
added four in a 10-2 run as Houston went ahead 36-35 with 4 minutes
remaining in the second quarter.

Gary Payton and Alston were each assessed technical fouls for
their brief shoving match in front of the Miami bench with 29
seconds remaining in the first half.

Game notes
The Heat activated backup center Michael Doleac for
Sunday's game. Doleac sat out the first five games with a sprained
right ankle. To make room for Doleac, the Heat deactivated reserve
center Earl Barron. ... Approximately 500 Rockets fans cheered
their team from the end zone seats in the upper deck. ...The
Rockets outrebounded the Heat 42-39, ending Houston's four-game
streak of outrebounding opponents by double figures. ... Houston
leads the all-time series 21-19.

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