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Yao, LeBron earn NBA honors for January
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Yao Ming and LeBron James were named the National Basketball Association's top players in the Western and Eastern Conference respectively for the month of January, the league announced Friday.

Chinese 2.16m superstar center Yao sparked the Houston Rockets to a 10-4 record in the first month of 2008, averaging 22.4 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists for the season to carry the load after an injury slowed Tracy McGrady.

Yao matched his season highs in scoring and rebounds with 36 points and 19 boards in a 111-107 victory over Golden State last Tuesday, a triumph that saw him sink a season-best 14 free throws.

Asia's first NBA star pounded New York for 36 points in a 101-92 triumph on January 9 and scored 30 points in victories over both New York and Seattle as well as contributing 21 points and 14 rebounds in an 83-81 victory over reigning NBA champion San Antonio.

James, the NBA scoring leader with 32.8 points a game, also has 7.8 rebounds and 7.2 assists a game for the Cleveland Cavaliers as they went 11-3 in January as they try to make a return trip to the NBA Finals.

"King James" had 31 points, a career-high 19 rebounds, eight assists, four blocked shots and three steals January 11 in a 113-106 double overtime victory over Charlotte and struck for a season-high 51 points four days later in a 132-124 victory over Memphis.

James also poured in 41 points with nine rebounds and four assists in a 98-95 victory over the host Los Angeles Lakers last Sunday.

Yao defeated Lakers' guard Kobe Bryant, Denver's Allen Iverson, Utah's Deron Williams and Phoenix's Amare Stoudemire for the Western honors while James beat out Charlotte's Gerald Wallace, Toronto's Chris Bosh and Washington's Caron Butler in the East.

(Agencies via China Daily February 2, 2008)

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