Yao had 37 points and four blocked shots in his biggest game since returning to the lineup, leading the Houston Rockets to a 103-92 victory over the Magic on Sunday.
Yao, who also had seven rebounds, was playing his fourth game since returning from a broken right leg that caused him to miss 32 games.
"Actually it's getting better every day," said Yao, who had four turnovers. "But my turnovers are still too high and my rebounds are still too low.
"I don't know how long it will be before I make it all the way back. I don't have experience with this kind of injury, so I don't know how long to say."
The Rockets know he's getting closer.
"Yao's doing great," said Shane Battier, who had 12 points, eight rebounds and four blocks. "It'll be a couple of weeks before he's in great condition. But his progress has been good.
"We would be foolish if we didn't look for Yao down there, he's so efficient. And he's getting more in shape every game."
Tracy McGrady added 19 points and 10 assists for Houston, which won its third straight after losing four of five.
"We did a great job of searching out Yao tonight," McGrady said. "When the big fellow is making shots down low like that, it's quite easy just to get him the ball."
"He is a very tough guy to shoot over," Magic coach Brian Hill said of Yao. "We wanted to put him in as many pick-and-roll situations as we could. I wasn't so surprised to see Yao as active as he was, but I didn't think he would get 37 points."
"He's 7-6 and there isn't a lot you can do against him," Howard said. "He had a good game and his jump shot was falling. You have to run him and we didn't run him enough, coming off his injury. You have to run the floor against him. "
Yao scored 10 points in the third quarter, helping Houston extend its lead to 21 points. Hedo Turkoglu had five points in the fourth quarter as Orlando closed to 96-86 with 2:15 to play.
The Rockets reeled off a 14-2 run, including 10 in a row, early in the first quarter. Yao had 10 in the period as Houston led by as many as nine before settling for a 31-23 lead entering the second quarter.
Houston used an 11-2 run in the second quarter, sparked by a pair of 3s by Battier and one by Kirk Snyder, to open a 50-36 advantage. The lead extended to 16 as the Rockets hit 68.8 percent (22 of 32) of their first-half shots.
Houston took a 58-45 lead into halftime as Yao had 16 and McGrady 12.
- Turkoglu left the game after re-injuring his broken nose with 2:24 left in the first quarter. He returned to start the second and played the rest of the way. Turkoglu broke his nose Thursday against the Chicago Bulls. He was fitted for a face mask for the injury on Saturday in Houston but chose not to wear it at the start of the game.
- Howard had his 45th double-double, which is second best in the NBA.
- Houston is 37-17 when McGrady plays and 2-7 when he doesn't this season. In his three years with the team, the Rockets are 113-66 with him in the lineup and 11-37 without him.
- The Rockets evened the all-time regular-season series with the Magic at 19-19, including 12-7 at home. Houston has won five straight in Orlando, including the only other game between the teams this season in February.