Houston Rockets center Yao Ming will miss the rest of the National Basketball Association playoffs because of a broken left foot.
Yao limped off the court late in the Los Angeles Lakers' 108-94 victory on Friday. He missed Saturday's practice to get treatment and the team said the 2.26-meter All-Star would be re-evaluated.
But the Rockets announced late on Saturday that further examination of Yao's injury revealed a hairline fracture. The Rockets say Yao will need eight to 12 weeks to recover, though no surgery is required.
The Rockets and Lakers play Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinal this morning. The Lakers lead the series 2-1.
Yao had 19 points and 14 rebounds in Friday's loss, his sixth straight double-double. But he was noticeably limping by the fourth quarter and finally hobbled off the court in the final minute, with the outcome decided.
Yao has been the focal point of the Rockets' offense since Tracy McGrady had season-ending knee surgery in February, and Houston finished 21-8 without McGrady. Yao has been plagued by serious leg and foot injuries in each of the previous three seasons, but played in 77 games in 2008-09.
His left foot has given him problems before.
Just four games before the end of the 2005-06 regular season, Yao broke the fifth metatarsal in the foot and missed the playoffs after surgery. In February 2008, Yao sustained a stress fracture in his foot and missed the postseason again, returning in time to play for host China in the Olympics.
The Rockets went 3-2 without Yao during the regular season and 19-8 without him in 2007-08. A total of 12 players missed 179 games for Houston this season, and the Rockets still were 53-29.
(Agencies via Shanghai Daily May 11, 2009)