Luis Scola had 22 points and nine rebounds and rookie Carl Landry had 15 points and 11 rebounds, both career highs, as the Rockets beat Minnesota 113-82 on Friday night to win for the seventh time in the nine games McGrady has missed with a left knee injury.
Yao scored 15 points in only 28 minutes as the Rockets blew out the Timberwolves in the first half and cruised to their season-high fifth consecutive victory.
Houston coach Rick Adelman had no complaints -- except for the time out Landry called after diving for a rebound in the final minute.
But the 6-foot-9 draft pick out of Purdue could be excused for the rookie mistake. He'd played only 17 total minutes in the NBA before logging 20 on Friday.
"When I got in there, I got a steal and I was running around, almost like a chicken with my head cut off," Landry said. "Coach was like, 'Settle down. You're not a point guard.' I got more relaxed and just let the game come to me."
Ryan Gomes had 20 points and six rebounds for the Wolves, who have lost 15 of their last 17 games overall and 13 straight on the road.
"We didn't show up tonight," Minnesota coach Randy Wittman said. "The way we played was discouraging."
Houston trainer Keith Jones said before the game that McGrady will probably miss another week as he recovers from a bone bruise and injured tendons in the knee. The Rockets also played without Bonzi Wells, who has a sprained left shoulder, but the hapless Timberwolves were still overmatched.
Houston hit 13 of its first 23 shots and led 31-18 after the first quarter. Every Rockets starter had between four and seven points as they continued their balanced attack in McGrady's absence.
Scola is the fifth different player to lead the Rockets in scoring while McGrady has been sidelined. An established star in the European League, but a rookie in the NBA, Scola has reached double figures in seven of Houston's last 11 games.
"I think I'm working hard and I'm getting better little by little," Scola said. "I'm getting used to the differences between here and where I come from."
The Timberwolves, the NBA's second-lowest scoring team, missed 14 of 21 shots in the quarter.
The Rockets outscored the Wolves 34-15 in the second quarter, using mostly reserves. Eventually, Adelman had a lineup on the floor that included Alston, Scola, Landry, fellow rookie Aaron Brooks and seldom-used Mike James.
And Houston still stayed in control.
James, who played for Minnesota last season, sank a 3-pointer and threw a long pass to Scola for a layup that put Houston up 57-26. At that point, the Rockets were shooting 57 percent (24 of 42).
"We got ourselves in trouble by the way we played offensively," Wittman said. "We're either too nice or too scared is what it looked like to me."
Landry, seeing his first action since Dec. 9, had seven points and five rebounds in the half.
"Carl is such a live body," Adelman said. "He's young and aggressive and quick. Carl has the ability to play in this league. He just needs the minutes and the time."
Adelman put his starters back in near the 2-minute mark and the Rockets led 65-33 at the break. It was a season-high point total for Houston in a half and the most the Timberwolves had given up in a half all season.
"We were playing at a very high level," Adelman said. "We were making shots. We didn't do anything wrong."
Minnesota had only three assists, shot 33 percent (12-of-36) and were outrebounded 31-15 in the half.
Houston's starters played most of the third quarter and continued to shred the Timberwolves' defense with sharp passes and easy layups. Minnesota scored 20 points in the quarter, but the Rockets scored 18 and led 87-56 heading to the fourth.
Minnesota went 0-for-6 from 3-point range, the first time since Feb. 4, 2006, that the Wolves failed to make a 3-pointer in a game. ... Shane Battier has blocked a shot in 13 consecutive games. ... Jones said Wells took a painkilling injection and is expected to practice on Saturday.