They’ll see the star swingman on the court for the first time since the 2005 playoffs Saturday night when the Rockets play their home opener.
Dallas (0-1) won by an average of 16.5 points against Houston last season, taking advantage of McGrady’s absence each time. McGrady played 47 games in 2005-06, but none against the Mavericks due to the back problems that plagued him throughout the season.
McGrady hasn’t faced Dallas since he averaged 30.7 points in Houston’s seven-game loss in the first round in 2005. The Rockets won the first two games on the road in that series before the Mavericks rallied.
McGrady scored 25 points on 8-of-24 shooting as the Rockets lost their opener, 107-97 at Utah on Wednesday. He added a team-high nine assists.
“This was a game for us to see where we were and obviously we weren’t ready for this,” McGrady said. “Loose balls, on the ground … They did whatever it took to win this ballgame and that’s why they won.”
Houston will probably try to emphasize star center Yao Ming more Saturday than it did in the opener. Yao was quiet at times, but shot 8-for-12 and finished with 22 points and nine rebounds.
Yao was forced to be Houston’s main scoring option last season against Dallas and played in three games. He had 36 points and 12 rebounds in a 95-81 loss March 15, but combined to shoot just 37.5 percent (12-for-32) and average 16.5 points in defeats on Nov. 22 and March 21, when he was matched up with Mavs center Erick Dampier.
Dallas began its season with a 97-91 loss to San Antonio on Wednesday. The Mavericks led by as many as 10 points in the second half before they were outscored 25-16 in the fourth quarter.
“It’s just our first game together, and we’re trying to find what combinations out there work and it’s going to take a little bit of time,” point guard Devin Harris said. “We’re trying to get the new guys comfortable with the system. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and we’ll come back next game.”
Dallas also attempted only 16 free throws compared to 37 for San Antonio.
“When you are aggressive in our league, you get rewarded,” Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. “We were not as aggressive as I thought we would be. It is not because we are not in the right spots, we are in the right spots, we just need to be more aggressive.”
Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Howard added 20 points.
The Mavs went 19-0 last season when Howard reached the 20-point mark.
Nowitzki excelled against the Rockets in 2005-06, averaging 29.5 points on better than 55 percent shooting.