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2.26.2008

Yao Ming to miss the rest of the NBA season

In a sad annoucement for Houston fans, the Rockets said on Tuesday afternoon that center Yao Ming will miss the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his left foot.

"It's a very difficult day for the organization and our fans," admitted Houston general manager Daryl Morey. "We've been playing exceptional basketball, and Yao's been a huge part of that."

In fact, the Rockets entered Tuesday's game against Washington riding a 12-game winning streak.

As we know, this injury was originally believed to be an ankle sprain aggravated by bone spurs around the ankle, team physician Dr. Tom Clanton said. Yao was examined after practice on Monday, and Clanton said that tests showed excessive fluid in one of the bones around Yao's left foot. A CT-scan revealed the stress fracture.

"I think this is not an injury that we feel he can play with," said Clanton, who recommended surgery on the foot. Clanton did say that the team urged Yao to seek other opinions, and that the 7-foot-6 center had not yet decided whether he would have surgery.

The talented Yao is averaging 22 points and 10.8 rebounds per game this season. He sat out a Rockets loss to Utah on January 27 with an upper-respiratory infection, but returned two days later. And Houston has not lost since, the last win a 110-97 win over the Bulls on Sunday.

"Yes, it's a pretty big swing from a high to a low, how we were playing," added Morey. "After that emotional reaction, talking with the coaching staff and players, you think how well we played without Yao, we think our supporting cast is superior to when we last played without Yao for a significant stretch ... so we remain ready for this challenge ahead."

It's important to know that this will be the third consecutive season marred by injury for the All-Star center. After playing 82, 82, and 80 games in his first three seasons in the league, Yao was limited to 57 matches in the 2005-06 campaign after undergoing surgery on an infection in his left big toe, and then breaking a toe in his left big foot late in the season. Yao played in only 48 games last season, during which he suffered a small fracture in his right leg.

Finally, we must say that both Morey and Clanton don't know whether Yao would be healthy to play for China in the Summer Olympics in Beijing.

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