Final

Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 11/4

Game 1: Saturday, November 4th
Mavericks76Final
Rockets107
Game 2: Tuesday, January 16th
Rockets96Final
Mavericks109
Game 3: Friday, February 9th
Rockets74Final
Mavericks95
Game 4: Thursday, February 15th
Mavericks80Final
Rockets77

Mavericks 76

(0-2, 0-1 away)

Rockets 107

(1-1, 1-0 home)

7:30 PM ET, November 4, 2006

Toyota Center, Houston, TX

1 2 3 4 T
DAL 16 22 23 1576
HOU 25 27 23 32107

Top Performers

Dallas: D. Nowitzki 24 Pts, 4 Reb, 1 Ast

Houston: Y. Ming 36 Pts, 6 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

This time around, Yao, Rockets plow through Mavs

HOUSTON (AP) -- The Houston Rockets made a flurry of offseason moves to try to close the gap with the Dallas Mavericks. They routed the defending Western Conference champs on Saturday night with two guys who were already with the team.

Yao Ming scored 36 points and Rafer Alston had 14 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds, leading Houston to a 107-76 victory over the Mavericks in the Rockets' home opener.

Luther Head had 17 points and Kirk Snyder added 12 for the Rockets, who shrugged off a bad night by Tracy McGrady to beat the Mavs for the first time since March 6, 2005.

Elias Says

Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks are now 0-2. They're the first team in four years to lose its first two games of a season following a trip to the NBA Finals. The last NBA team to do that was the Lakers in 2002-03.

• For more Elias Says, Click here

"To have a chance in this league, you need to have energy and execution, both of them consistently, and you need great players playing great," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "And Yao obviously played great."

The Mavericks swept four games with Houston last season, but shot poorly this time and never found a way to shut down Yao, who sank 12 of 16 shots and went 12-for-12 from the free-throw line.

Alston, meanwhile, had one of the best overall games of his career, adding four steals and four 3-pointers without a turnover. He also played smothering defense on Mavs guard Jason Terry, who missed all five of his shots and scored one point.

"This ranks up there with my better ones," Alston said. "Sometimes, your best games are not in the statistics. They're what you do when you don't have the ball."

Most of Alston's assists were feeds to Yao, who used quick, strong post moves to dominate DeSagana Diop and Erick Dampier as they tried to guard him.

"When I give him a target, he always passes the ball right on target," Yao said of Alston. "There is good chemistry there."

Dirk Nowitzki scored 24 and Josh Howard added 16 for the Mavericks, who shot 41 percent (29 of 70) and committed 22 turnovers. Dallas is 0-2 for the first time since the 1993-94 season.

Yao capped his night with an alley-oop dunk from Snyder that put the Rockets up 100-70 with 4:59 left.

He had 24 points at the break and his last basket of the half was a fadeaway jumper from the baseline with 0.1 seconds left that put the Rockets up 52-38.

"When we double-teamed him, triple-teamed him or single-covered him, he would still score," Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. "He was playing like we were not out there on the floor."

McGrady missed all four games with Dallas last season with back problems. He had only two points at halftime on Saturday, then hit his first two shots in the third quarter. But the six-time All-Star picked up his fourth foul with 5:13 left in the quarter and went to the bench.

That just gave Yao more opportunities to dominate.

In one sequence, he blocked a shot by Nowitzki, then had a layup and a dunk after passes from Alston.

McGrady is ready to designate Yao the league's top center.

"At this point, I'd say he's the best," McGrady said. "Now, he's coming into his own."

Head sank a 3-pointer 2 minutes into the fourth quarter to push the lead to 81-61. With 6:56 left, Yao got his first assist when he found Alston for a 3-pointer.

The Mavs never recovered from the Rockets' opening 12-0 run. Alston got it started with two 3-pointers and Yao followed with two close-range baskets, foreshadowing his night to come.

"It seemed like they took it to us from the beginning," Johnson said. "They came out with a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm.

"We were just unable to throw a punch tonight. We just didn't have it."

Neither did McGrady, though the Rockets didn't miss him at all with the way Yao and Alston played.

McGrady missed four of his first five shots, then left with a cut tongue late in the first quarter. Bonzi Wells replaced him and made his Houston debut.

The Mavs missed 11 of their first 17 shots and trailed 28-16 after Steve Novak's 3-pointer early in the second quarter.

McGrady returned with 4:45 left in the half and Houston up 41-29. He finished with eight points and four assists.

Game notes


Dallas owner Mark Cuban watched the game from courtside. ... Yao's point total was five short of his career high. ... The NBA fined Josh Howard $5,000 on Saturday for his flagrant foul on San Antonio's Bruce Bowen in Thursday's opener. ... The victory margin matched the Rockets' biggest from last season.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Team Stat Comparison

 
DAL
HOU
Points 76 107
FGM-FGA 29-70 (.414) 37-69 (.536)
3PM-3PA 4-12 (.333) 8-16 (.500)
FTM-FTA 14-19 (.737) 25-30 (.833)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-34 7-35
Assists 13 26
Turnovers 22 15
Steals 1 13
Blocks 3 5
Fast Break Points 6 16
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (3/0) 23 (1/0)
Largest Lead 0 33

Top Performers

Dallas
Houston
Dirk Nowitzki Nowitzki
Points: 24
Reb: 4
Ast: 1
Stl: 0
Blk: 0
Yao Ming Ming
Points: 36
Reb: 6
Ast: 1
Stl: 1
Blk: 2