Yao Ming has a stress fracture in his left ankle and the Houston Rockets said there is no timetable for the return of the 7-6 center whose NBA career may be in serious jeopardy after a series of injuries.

Yao has been out since Nov. 10 with what had been called a bone bruise in the same ankle. An MRI yesterday revealed the stress fracture.

Yao, a seven-time All-Star, sat out last season after surgery to repair his broken left foot. The Rockets said his current injury is related to the old one and was discovered during his current rehabilitation.

Yao was the top overall draft pick in 2002 and first began to have injury problems in the 2005-06 season, primarily with his left foot.

When he returned this season after sitting out for more than a year, the Rockets closely limited his work to no more than 24 minutes a game. But in the fifth game, Yao was injured again. The initial diagnosis was a mild ankle sprain that would keep him out about a week. Nine days later, the team called it an ankle bone bruise and team physician Tom Clanton said Yao's foot was healed.


* Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo has a sprained left ankle, suffered Wednesday, and could be sidelined a week or more.

In games last night:

* At Boston, Kevin Garnett had 17 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Celtics to their 12th straight win, 102-90, over the Atlanta Hawks. Paul Pierce had 15 points and 10 assists and Glen "Big Baby" Davis had 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Marvin Williams had a season-best 26 points 18 for the Hawks.

* At East Rutherford, N.J., Devin Harris' 29 points helped lead the New Jersey Nets over the Washington Wizards, 97-89. *