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General manager Daryl Morey made the announcement Tuesday, hours before the Rockets put their 12-game winning streak on the line against the Washington Wizards. All-Star center Yao Ming is out for the season with a stress fracture in his left foot, a stunning blow to the surging Houston Rockets.

Yao was examined after Monday’s practice at Memorial Hermann Hospital and met Rockets team physician Dr. Tom Clanton to go over the test results. The Rockets confirmed the news this afternoon. He is averaging 22 points and 10.8 rebounds for the Rockets (36-20), who have won 12 straight games to move within 2.5 games of front-running San Antonio in the Southwest Division. Yao has been an All-Star in each of his six NBA seasons, averaging 19 points and 9.2 rebounds.

Clanton said there was no specific event that led to the injury, but rather an accumulation of stresses on the bone. Yao first experienced soreness and pain in his ankle before the All-Star game and tests were done Monday when the situation didn’t improve. This is Yao’s fourth major injury in the last two years. He missed 32 games last season with a fracture in his right leg and 21 games in late 2006 with a toe infection that required surgery. He missed four games in April 2006 after breaking his foot.

If Yao chooses surgery, Clanton said, it would involve placing screws across the bone to hold it together. The second option would be to treat it with a cast and crutches. Both options involve a healing time of about four months.