Yao Ming scored 19 points in 20 minutes as the Rockets beat the undermanned Mavs 104-90 in a preseason game.
The stars on both sides mostly skipped this one, especially on the Dallas side.
Dirk Nowitzki wore his uniform but didn't play, Josh Howard sat on the bench in street clothes and Jerry Stackhouse watched the game in the locker room with a stomach illness. Erick Dampier (shoulder injury) and DeSagana Diop (flu) also sat out.
Tracy McGrady played 10 minutes for Houston, all in the first quarter, and scored eight. Yao left the game for good with 4:35 left in the third quarter.
Yao is pivotal to the Rockets' transition to Rick Adelman's more up-tempo offensive style. He's already enjoying the change from former coach Jeff Van Gundy's slower, half-court system.
"I just feel full of confidence," said Yao, who also had two assists and three turnovers. "It's very simple and very easy for me."
Mike James had 17 points and Shane Battier added 14 for Houston, which used mostly reserves in the second half.
Brandon Bass, who signed with the Mavs as a free agent in July, led Dallas with 25 points and eight rebounds.
"Bass is a pretty strong guy with a good body and a lot of energy," Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. "We want him to defend and rebound. If he scores, that will be a great added benefit."
The Mavericks' starting lineup was Nick Fazekas, Maurice Ager, Eddie Jones, Darvin Ham and Devin Harris. Jason Terry replaced Harris midway through the first quarter.
Houston, meanwhile, started its regular lineup and opened with an 18-4 run, with Yao scoring 10 points and McGrady adding six in the first five minutes.
Point guard Rafer Alston said the starters have easily picked up Adelman's system.
"The starting five, we've been clicking for a while now," said Alston, who had five assists. "We know where guys like the ball, we know where guys are going to be at, we know how to play off each other."
The Rockets' lead swelled to 26-6 before Luis Scola replaced Yao with 4:36 left in the first quarter. McGrady was replaced by Bonzi Wells with 2:12 left in the quarter and was done for the night.
In the final minute of the period, Wells fed Yao for an easy dunk to put the Rockets up 30-13. Yao played the first 3½ minutes of the second quarter and was replaced by Jackie Butler.
The no-name Mavericks trimmed the lead to 57-47 by halftime led by Bass, who scored 23 points and grabbed six rebounds in the first half.
Yao started the second half, as the Rockets went back to a lineup of mostly starters. Dallas countered with a lineup of Ager, Fazekas, Jones, Ham and Jose Juan Barea.
"We played hard and tough and we can take something away from this game," Ham said. "We gave our best shot. There is not much more you can do."
Steve Francis played most of the second half for Houston. Francis signed with the Rockets in July, adding to a crowded backcourt that Adelman has to trim by the start of the season. The Rockets have 19 players on the current roster and nine are guards.
The Mavs' second-teamers closed the deficit to 74-72 late in the third quarter. Wells drove for a dunk to start a 16-4 burst that pushed the lead back into double digits. Wells scored 11.
The stars on both sides never seemed too concerned with the game's outcome. During timeouts, McGrady threw T-shirts into the crowd, while Nowitzki chuckled at the on-court entertainment.
|Houston (1-1) «||30||27||23||24||104|
Majestic James Harden Rockets Player T-Shirt - Red Shop Now!