The big two will take their third shot at that much-anticipated initial victory when the Rockets visit the Memphis Grizzlies, who are in search of their first win at the new FedExForum.
Acquired this past offseason in the deal that sent All-Star guard Steve Francis to Orlando, McGrady was expected to complement Yao in much the same way Kobe Bryant did Shaquille O’Neal before the Los Angeles Lakers’ duo had their ugly breakup last spring.
But Yao and McGrady haven’t quite found their respective niches on the floor together.
McGrady scored 18 points and Yao added just seven in Tuesday’s season-opening loss to defending world champion Detroit. On Wednesday, McGrady scored 21 points and Yao added 17, but neither was able to get in a consistent groove as Houston fell 95-88 at Toronto.
“Just because we’re two up-and-coming superstars in the league doesn’t mean we’re going to win every game,” McGrady said after the loss to the Raptors. “There are a lot of new faces on this club. We’re still trying to feel each other out.
“I’m waiting for Yao to do his thing in the post. He’s waiting for me to attack. Did I think it was going to click right away? Not at all.”
Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy isn’t as concerned about his star duo as he is his team’s overall lack of defensive intensity.
“We’re not guarding, we’re not rebounding, missing free throws, not taking care of the ball and not much more,” he said.
The Grizzlies are hoping to rebound following a 103-91 loss to visiting Washington in their season opener Wednesday. The $250 million arena that helped lure the team out of Vancouver lived up to expectations, but a Memphis team coming off a 50-win campaign didn’t.
After building an eight-point by halftime, the Grizzlies were outscored 32-11 during the third quarter and never recovered.
“That’s what you call an old-fashion butt kicking,” Memphis forward Shane Battier said. “We didn’t deserve to win that game. We were outplayed.”