Yao Ming and Ron Artest powered a 16-2 run late in the fourth quarter, carrying the Houston Rockets to a 112-102 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night in the debut of new Mavs coach Rick Carlisle.
Yao finished with 30 points and 13 rebounds, and Artest scored 29 points. He had seven points in the decisive run, which began with the game tied at 92. Along the way, he also showed his allegiance to his new big man.
After Yao was fouled hard and caught a late elbow from Dallas' Josh Howard, Artest rushed between Yao and Howard. Officials quickly got involved, then decided to give Artest a technical foul. Yao then showed his allegiance by telling an official, "He was trying to separate us." The new teammates walked away slapping hands.
The Mavericks got within eight in the final minutes, then Dirk Nowitzki blocked a layup by Houston's Aaron Brooks, bringing fans to their feet. But Nowitzki missed a turnaround 12-footer on the other end and the result was never in doubt again.
Nowitzki scored 36 points, but had only one in the fourth quarter -- on Artest's technical. Howard had 28 points and 11 rebounds, and Jason Kidd had seven points, seven rebounds and 12 assists.
Houston's Tracy McGrady scored 16 points, making only three of 10 shots, and sat out the fourth quarter. He's still recovering from offseason operations on his left knee and left shoulder. Brooks, who was supposed to be out one to three weeks with an ankle injury, had 14 points, including a wild 3-pointer that started the key run.
Carlisle is promising a faster offense predicated on tough defense. He was half right as Dallas got 37 fast-break points. Problem was, the defense hardly slowed Houston.
The Rockets hit 50 points midway through the second quarter and had 85 through three quarters. They had only 82 in their opener at home the night before.
Before tipoff, Mavs swingman Jerry Stackhouse addressed the crowd, saying, "It's gonna be fun, it's gonna be fast. Put on your seat belts. Let's do it!" Then Dallas opened the Carlisle era with a 24-second violation.
The Mavericks had three turnovers and three fouls in a little more than 2 minutes. Nowitzki didn't score the first 6 minutes. But Dallas still managed to score 33 points in the opening period, getting 16 on fast breaks. Kidd set the tempo and Howard helped push it. During a 13-2 run, Howard scored nine points and had an assist. He scored 15 points in the first quarter.
Notes:@ The Mavericks fell to 6-2 in home openers at the American Airlines Center. ... Yao had the embarrassment of missing a wide-open dunk, making the mistake of thinking he was closer than he actually was. He got stuffed by the rim, but got bailed out by a foul call and redeemed himself by hitting both shots. ... Carlisle fell to 1-2 in coaching debuts. He lost with Detroit in 2001-02 and won with Indiana in 2003-04.