Rockets open McHale-era in Orlando

Kevin McHale will get his coaching career in Houston underway when the Rockets pay a visit to Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic this evening from Amway Center.

McHale took over for Rick Adelman in May after the Rockets finished the 2010-11 season with a 43-39 record and missed the playoffs for a second consecutive year. McHale will roam the sidelines in enemy territory for seven of the team's first 10 games.

The Rockets said goodbye to Yao Ming in the offseason, and the Chinese center was forced to sit out of 250 of a possible 492 games dating back to 2005-06 with an assortment of leg and foot ailments. He missed all but five games over the past two seasons, including the entire 2009-10 season.

"Thinking back, and thinking of the future, I've been very grateful," Yao said. "Basketball has brought happiness to many people, including myself."

Houston tried to replace Yao in the middle with Los Angeles Laker big man Pau Gasol, but the three-team trade involving the New Orleans Hornets was rejected by the league. Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and newcomer Jonny Flynn will try to lead the Rockets back to their days of glory. Rookie Marcus Morris was picked 14th overall in the 2011 NBA Draft and the team has high hopes for the former Kansas star.

Houston played strong towards the end of last season, going 17-8 after the All-Star break, and secured its eighth winning season over the last nine campaigns. The Rockets are 22-22 all-time in opening contests to a season.

Orlando started its 2011-12 campaign on a losing note on Christmas, dropping a 97-89 decision to a talented Oklahoma City squad.

The subject of several trade rumors, Magic center Dwight Howard posted 11 points and 15 rebounds. Ryan Anderson led the way with 25 points and 10 boards. Jameer Nelson scored 18 in defeat.

"On the defensive end, I didn't think we were good in the first half," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "I thought we got much better in the second half. Offensively, we just weren't good all night."

Orlando will play two straight and five of its next seven games at home.

The Magic won both meetings with Houston last season and is unbeaten in the previous four meetings between the teams. The Rockets have dropped 12 of the past 19 road games in this series.