Yao Wins East vs East Battle

When it comes to basketball in China, Yao Ming is still the king. But Yi Jianlian's time could be coming soon.

Yao and Yi each had their share of highlights in the much-anticipated first matchup of the country's greatest player and its top rising star, and Yao's Houston Rockets beat Yi's Milwaukee Bucks 104-88 on Friday night.

Yao had 28 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. Yi had 19 points and nine rebounds.

The game was an enormous event in China, where it started early Saturday morning. It was being broadcast on 19 television networks and NBA officials were expecting the largest-ever viewing audience for a game, well over 200 million.

As a bonus, those watching also got to see plenty of Tracy McGrady, who had 21 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, and Michael Redd, who had 26 points for Milwaukee.

The Bucks have lost eight straight games in Houston and haven't won there since 1999.

But this one was more about Yao and Yi then the teams involved.

About 90 minutes before the game, Yao and Yi shook hands at midcourt and posed for about two dozen photographers, most of them Chinese. It was a staged photo opportunity, and Yao had to wait a few minutes before Yi came out of the Bucks locker room.

"You know what?" Yao said afterward, with a kidding smile. "Rookies should not do that."


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