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Yao, Rockets rout Mavericks in home opener

Nov 5, 2006 - 4:16 AM HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady made up for lost time.

Yao scored 36 points and Luther Head added 14 of his 17 in the fourth quarter as the Houston Rockets routed the Dallas Mavericks, 107-76, in their home opener.

McGrady collected eight points, four assists and three rebounds in just 22 minutes for the Rockets, who scored the first 12 points, shot 54 percent (37-of-69) from the field and defeated Dallas for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign.

McGrady missed all four encounters against the Mavericks last season with an injured back and Yao sat out two showdowns because of a toe injury. Dallas swept the four-game season series by an average of 16.5 points.

Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said it was nice to have his stars back, but winning starts with effort.

"I thought we tried a hell of a lot harder tonight, so that's always where it starts," Van Gundy said. "To have a chance in this league, you need to have energy and execution - both of them consistently."

On Saturday, Yao shot 12-of-16 from the field and 12-of-12 from the line, also grabbing six rebounds. The 7-5 All-Star center was a force on the interior, limiting Mavericks center Erick Dampier to just two points and four fouls.

"After I made the first couple of shots, they were coming to my side," Yao said. "Rafer (Alston) showed up the entire game. When I give him a target, he always passes the ball right on target."

Alston, whose floor leadership had been criticized recently, had 14 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds for the Rockets.

"(Alston) is confident, he knows his teammates. He knows where we're going to be and where he's going to be," McGrady said. "He's worked so hard in knocking down the jumper, and that's really helped our offense."

Head was 5-of-6 in the final period, including 2-of-2 on 3-pointers. Houston outscored Dallas, 32-15, in the fourth quarter.

"We started off great and were able to maintain the momentum almost the whole game," Head said. "We were a little sluggish in the third quarter, but we started off strong again in the fourth."

Dirk Nowitzki scored 24 points and Josh Howard added 16 for the Mavericks, who lost their second straight contest to an in-state rival to open the season.

"(The Rockets) got hot at the beginning and that was about the way the whole game went," Howard said. "Yao was knocking down his shots, and their entire team played well. Yao never surprises me.

"We need to just go out and play our system. We know we have a big target on our back and we have to come out focused and play hard every game."

Dallas is 0-2 for the first time since 1993.

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