TORONTO (AP) -- The big two are 0-2.
Houston's duo of McGrady and Yao Ming improved Wednesday from
their poor performance against the Pistons the day before, but not
enough to save the Rockets. McGrady, acquired in the offseason,
scored 21 points, but only two after the third quarter.
Yao, who had just seven points against Detroit, finished with 17
points and six turnovers.
"Just because we're two up-and-coming superstars in the league
doesn't mean we're going to win every game," McGrady said. "There
are a lot of new faces on this club. We're still trying to feel
each other out."
McGrady said they just don't know what the other is going to do
"I'm waiting for Yao to do his thing in the post. He's waiting
for me to attack," McGrady said. "Did I think it was going to
click right away? Not at all."
Vince Carter, who asked for a trade this summer, added 16 points
and six assists for the Raptors to help Sam Mitchell win in his
first game as Toronto's coach.
Mitchell has been urging his players to exude more confidence.
Toronto finished 33-49 last season, missing the playoffs for the
second straight season.
"All it takes is a big win against a quality team," Mitchell
said. "If you have confidence that your shot is going to fall, if
you have confidence that you can contend night in and night out,
you can go out and compete with anybody."
Jalen Rose added 17 points for the Raptors, one of four players
to score 15 or more points. Point guard Rafer Alston, a free agent
signing in the offseason, had 15 points, eight assists and seven
New Toronto center Loren Woods held Yao in check.
"Going into the game I was hearing a lot of talk about how I
didn't have a chance against Yao and how it was going to be the
biggest advantage for Houston," Woods said. "So I just stepped up
to the challenge."
Former Denver Nuggets forward Juwan Howard hit a hook shot that
cut Toronto's lead to four points with five minutes left, but
Carter followed with a 3-pointer from the corner and Bosh made a
running jumper in traffic to make it 86-78 with 3:27 left.
Alston later stole the ball from Yao and assisted on Donyell
Marshall's jumper, giving Toronto an 88-80 lead with 1:46 left.
Houston's Charlie Ward made a 3-pointer to cut the lead to five
with 1:31 remaining, but Carter found Woods for dunk with 46
Toronto started the game on a 17-4 run. Bosh capped a 15-2 run
in the second quarter with a 3-point play, giving Toronto a
14-point lead -- its biggest lead of the game -- and helping the
Raptors lead by 13 at halftime.
Yao had just four points in 12 minutes in the first half.
"You can lose a game in many places and we lost the game in
many places," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "Getting blown
out early, making a run back and then getting hammered again right
before the half, then again at the end."<
^NOTES:@ Howard, who bolted from Denver to Orlando as a free agent
in July 2003 because he said he wanted to win, ended up on the
wrong side of Wednesday's season opening loss. Howard signed a
five-year contract with the Magic, but spent less than a year there
before being traded to Houston in June. ... McGrady feels for his
ex-teammate Carter, who wants to be traded. "You have to go
somewhere where you can be happy. My last year in Orlando I wasn't
happy," he said. ... The Raptors host the Pistons on Friday. ...
Houston point guards Charlie Ward and Tyronn Lue combined for just
four assists. Lue landed in Texas after having had discussions with
Denver last year about joining the Nuggets, saying they were his
first choice. ... The Rockets have nine new players.
On the Net:
Houston Rockets: http://www.nba.com/rockets
Toronto Raptors: http://www.nba.com/raptors
National Basketball Association: http://www.nba.com