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Barry leads Houston with 24 in Rockets' win

HOUSTON (AP) -- Houston Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy called Jon
Barry at home on Tuesday and delivered a terse, motivational speech
over the phone.

If Van Gundy keeps getting these kinds of results, he might be
calling more of his players.

Barry scored 24 points, outscoring Houston stars Yao Ming and
Tracy McGrady and leading the Rockets to a 98-89 win over the Kings
on Wednesday night.

Van Gundy told Barry he was disappointed in the veteran guard's
effort at recent practices. Barry agreed and said the call shook
him out his doldrums.

"I needed a kick in the butt and it was good," Barry said. "I
don't want him to call me every other day, but that's the effort I
need to play with. I told him that wouldn't be a problem."

Barry grabbed a microphone before the game and gave his coach
some good-natured ribbing, saying he hoped the fans had the same
"optimism and enthusiasm" for the season that the notoriously
critical Van Gundy had.

Van Gundy laughed, then told Barry the diatribe would cost him
five minutes of playing time.

"I would've had 30-something, but he yanked me out of there a
couple of times," said Barry, acquired in a December 2004 trade
for Tyronn Lue.

For one night, Barry was the complement to Yao and McGrady the
Rockets have been seeking since acquiring McGrady in June 2004.
Houston's All-Star duo were their usual productive selves against
the Kings.

McGrady had 23 points after sitting out Houston's last two
preseason games with tendinitis in both knees and Yao added 22
points and 10 rebounds.

But it sure was nice to have Barry scoring, too.

"They couldn't double-team as much and that freed us," said
Yao. "He is a very good scorer and a very good shooter and
definitely a player we can count on. That took a lot of pressure
off of us and I believe that can help us win a lot of games."

Barry sank 8 of 10 shots, including a pair of 3-pointers. He
also went 6-for-7 from the free-throw line.

Bonzi Wells had 22 points and a career-high 18 rebounds and Brad
Miller added 21 for Sacramento.

The Kings led early as the Rockets faced a familiar problem from
last year -- foul trouble for Yao. The 7-foot-6 center picked up his
second foul just four minutes into the game and Miller converted a
three-point play for an 11-4 Kings' lead.

Yao went to the bench and McGrady walked gingerly to the
sideline five minutes later. McGrady wore a black wrap around his
left leg, and said he played in pain.

"There's nothing I can do about it," he said. "It hurts every
time I jump. I can't be as explosive as I want. I'm just real
tentative."

Both of Houston's stars returned for the second quarter and the
Rockets were a different team, using a 15-4 run to take a 33-31
lead.

But Yao got his third foul with 1:20 left in the half and the
Kings went to the break with a 49-46 lead.

Sacramento missed 14 of its first 16 shots to start the second
half and the Rockets built a 10-point lead after dunks by McGrady
and Yao's backup, Dikembe Mutombo.

"Our intensity was much better in the second half, our effort
level was much higher," Van Gundy said.

One of the NBA's highest scoring teams last season, the Kings
were throwing up air balls and bouncing shots off the top of the
backboard during their abysmal third quarter.

But Kings coach Rick Adelman said he saw progress from
Sacramento's 93-67 loss to New Orleans on Tuesday night.

"We played a lot better tonight, we just missed a ton of shots
in the third quarter," Adelman said. "It's not encouraging to
lose, but it was encouraging to play better."

The Rockets couldn't pull away, though, missing 5 of their last
7 shots in the quarter.

Yao returned with 10:53 left, McGrady was back a minute later
and the Rockets controlled their opener from there.

The Rockets won their season opener for only the third time in
eight years.

Game notes
Houston's 6-2 preseason record matched their best since
1995, when they were coming off their second straight NBA
championship. ... Houston forward Dion Glover and guard Bobby Sura
sat out Wednesday's game with knee injuries. Lonny Baxter was also
inactive, but the Rockets said he wasn't injured. ...Yao reached
double figures for the 44th straight game. ...The Kings are 0-2 for
the second straight season. They lost their first three games last
season, including a 104-101 loss at Houston.

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