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Yao in good spirits despite season-ending injury
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Houston center Yao Ming was in good spirits on Sunday, despite the news that he'll miss the rest of the Rockets' National Basketball Association postseason campaign with a broken left foot.

"It's frustrating, but you have to be positive because it is already better than last year," Yao said. "It has already happened so I need to look forward and see what's the next step."

"I think I've been in harder situations before, much harder than this one," he said. "I believe that I can get through this one too."

The towering Chinese star has contended with a series of injuries in his NBA career, including a stress fracture in his left foot in February of 2008 that ended his 2007-08 NBA campaign.

He broke his left foot for the first time with four games left in the 2005-06 season.

He missed 32 games in the 2006-07 season with a broken right leg.

Yao had avoided a major injury in this regular season, his 77 games the most he had played since he appeared in 80 in 2004-05.

But the 28-year-old aggravated a foot injury in Houston's 108-94 loss to Los Angeles in game three on Friday, when he hobbled off the court in the waning minutes after clearly struggling in the fourth quarter.

Initially thought to be a sprained ankle, the injury was later discovered to be a hairline fracture of the foot.

Even Lakers coach Phil Jackson was sympathetic.

"That's too bad," Jackson said. "Here's a guy who's been in the best shape I've ever seen him in. You always thought if you ran Yao for 30 or 32 minutes, he was going to fade in the game.

"This year, he's shown that he can play a 40-minute game and still have impact. I know it's a great disappointment for him."

Clad in a suit, he was on the sidelines supporting his teammates on Sunday.

"We played as a team, as a group for a long time this year. We understand that only the team can win the game, not a person, and no one is above this team and everyone on this team understands that."

The Rockets shrugged off the loss of Yao to stun the Lakers 99-87 on Sunday and level their Western Conference semifinal series at 2-2.

Houston guard Aaron Brooks scored a career-high 34 points in the shock home-court win over the Lakers.

"We will never count ourselves out," Brooks told reporters. "If anybody is ready for this it would be us.

"We've been through a lot this year. Mac (Tracy McGrady) being out, Deke (Dikembe Mutombo) being out, Shane (Battier) being out at the beginning of the year. Now we have Yao out. It seems like we keep going. We're used to it."

(AFP via China Daily May 12, 2009)

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