Good Cop Bad Cop?

With the game on the line, Ron Artest came to the rescue for Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets. Artest scored seven points during a 16-2 run late in the fourth quarter that sent the Rockets to a 112-102 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night. But that’s not the only way he ingratiated himself to the big guy.

During the spurt, Yao caught an elbow from Dallas’ Josh Howard. When the two started to go face-to-face, Artest came running in between them. Officials weren’t happy to see Artest and blew the whistle. After huddling, they hit Artest with a technical foul that was probably more for his reputation than for the act itself. “It happens,” Artest said. “No punches thrown, no cursing at the referees. It was a part of the game type of thing. Somebody threw an elbow at Yao and I just reacted. It’s nothing to get upset about, nothing to hold a grudge about.”
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Yao certainly appreciated the support. He even went over to an official to gripe about the technical, saying, “He was trying to separate us.” Yao and Artest then slapped hands and walked away. “Ron’s a very good teammate,” Yao said. “That happened once in the preseason and he did the same thing. He’s trying to help a teammate, sacrificing himself.”

This could be a very interesting set piece in basketball. Yao is the notorious nice guy and Artest is the notorious hot head. If they average nearly 60 points a game together, it might be fun…


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