Rockets outlast Dallas
Yao, Artest lead way for Houston
With the game on the line, Ron Artest came to the rescue for Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets.
Artest scored 7 points during a 16-2 run late in the fourth quarter that sent the Rockets to a 112-102 victory over the Mavericks last night in Dallas. But that's not the only way he ingratiated himself to the big guy.
During the spurt, Yao caught an elbow from Dallas's Josh Howard. When the two started to go face to face, Artest came running in between them.
Officials weren't happy to see Artest and blew the whistle. After huddling, they hit Artest with a technical foul that was probably more for his reputation than for the act itself.
"It happens," Artest said. "No punches thrown, no cursing at the referees. It was a part of the game type of thing. Somebody threw an elbow at Yao and I just reacted. It's nothing to get upset about, nothing to hold a grudge about."
Yao certainly appreciated the support. He even went over to an official to gripe about the technical, saying, "He was trying to separate us." Yao and Artest then slapped hands and walked away.
"Ron's a very good teammate," Yao said. "That happened once in the preseason and he did the same thing. He's trying to help a teammate, sacrificing himself."
Yao and Artest were quite a duo with the basketball, too. Yao finished with 30 points and 13 rebounds, and Artest scored 29 as the Rockets won their second game in as many nights.
"Ron was terrific the whole game," Houston coach Rick Adelman said.
The Mavericks stumbled in the debut of new coach Rick Carlisle. Dirk Nowitzki scored 36 points and Howard added 28 points and 11 rebounds, but they scored a combined 3 points on 1-of-6 shooting in the fourth quarter. As a team, Dallas was 6 of 24 in the period.
The Mavericks started the fourth up by 1 and were tied at 92 when Houston pulled away. Dallas was only able to get within 8 after that.
"We will figure it out," Carlisle said. "You've got to be careful about overreacting to one game."
Through three quarters, the Mavericks showed plenty of the uptempo offense Carlisle has promised, but not much of the tight defense that's supposed to trigger it. 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.
"We put up enough points but we didn't stop anybody," said Jason Kidd, who finished with 7 points, 7 rebounds, and 12 assists for Dallas. "This was a lesson learned."
Houston's Tracy McGrady scored 16 points, making only 3 of 10 shots, and sat out the fourth quarter. He's still recovering from offseason operations on his left knee and left shoulder.
Hornets 108, Suns 95 - Chris Paul had 20 points, 10 assists, and 8 rebounds and visiting New Orleans held off a rally, then pulled away to beat Phoenix and spoil the home debut of Suns coach Terry Porter.
Peja Stojakovic added 20 points before leaving the game with a sprained right ankle in the first few seconds of the fourth quarter.
New Orleans already was without starting center Tyson Chandler, who sprained his right ankle against the Warriors.
Cavaliers 96, Bobcats 79 - LeBron James scored 22 points, Daniel Gibson had 20 of his 25 in the first half, and Cleveland won its home opener, spoiling well-traveled coach Larry Brown's debut with Charlotte.