It was billed as Yao Ming vs. Yi Jianlian, but the story was Yao.
The Rockets center scored 28 points, grabbed 10 boards and blocked 3 shots as the Rockets bumped off Yi (19 points, 9 boards) and the Bucks 104-88 in the Toyota Center Friday night, improving to 5-1 on the season.
In China, this was being billed as the "NBA Super Bowl" game with an expected TV audience of over 200 million people tuning in to see the Chinese national teammates squaring off.
In America, this was being billed as the "Dude, who cares? It's Milwaukee" game.
Yao definitely had a strong performance and seems to be getting more comfortable in this system, but it wasn't all the big fella in this one.
Tracy McGrady dropped in 21 points to go with 8 assists and 7 rebounds. Bonzi Wells had his second straight huge game, scoring 18 points and grabbing 7 boards. Shane Battier had a very efficient offensive night, scoring 15 points (including 3-6 triples) to go with 8 boards.
Combined, Yao, T-Mac, Bonzi and Battier hit over 50% of their shots and that was too much for the Bucks. Milwaukee had given the Rockets a scare, pulling to within 3 points early in the fourth, but the Rockets fearsome foursome stepped up.
They needed it tonight too because the point guards stunk up the joint.
Rafer Alston continued his frightful shooting with a 2-10 clunker, including 1-6 from long range. You've heard me say this many times, but offensively, Skip is bad. Real bad, and I don't mean Michael Jackson bad.
BUT, he's not this bad.
Through 6 games, Rafer is shooting 31.8% from the field and a great grandma-like 20.8% clip from beyond the arc. His shooting is a problem, and will be all year, but his numbers should get better than this.
The worse news for Rockets fans? Mike James has been infected. He matched Rafer's output with a 2-10 brickfest and also missed 5 of his 6 threes (his one make he banked in). After saving the Rockets' bacon in the first two games on the road, James' shooting has gone in the tank: 30.6% from the field and 28% from three over the last four.
And the funnier part: Steve Francis still can't get off the pine. That should tell you something about how hard he's working to impress coach Rick Adelman.
But that is what is so impressive right now about these Rockets: Despite the 5 paragraphs of negativity I just laid down about our point guard situation, they are still 5-1, which is a testament to how many weapons Rick Adelman has at his disposal.