HOUSTON (AP) -Yao Ming scored 21 points and had eight rebounds to help the Houston Rockets beat Euroleague champion Panathinaikos of Greece 107-70 in an exhibition game Thursday night.
The Rockets played without star forward Tracy McGrady, who had a sore left knee. Club officials said he bumped it slightly in practice Wednesday and they decided at game time to hold him out. He's day to day.
Rookie Luis Scola scored 17 points while Rafer Alston added 14. Steve Francis, who returned to the team in a draft-day trade from the Knicks, played 21 minutes off the bench and scored 11 points.
Panathinaikos, which has won four Euroleague titles the past eight years, was led by Sani Becirovic and Michael Batiste, one of two Americans on the team (along with Kennedy Winston). They each scored 14 points. Batiste, the former Arizona State player who spent the 2002-03 season with the Memphis Grizzlies, also had a team-high nine rebounds.
Kostas Tsartsaris added 10 points for Panathinaikos. Guard Dimitris Diamantidis, MVP of the Euroleague's Final Four, went 1-for-8 from the field and failed to score until there was 1:37 left in the game when he hit a 3-pointer.
Panathinaikos coach Zelimir Obradovic got his second technical with 7:53 to play and was ejected from the game with Houston leading 90-55.
From the start, it was evident the Greek team, whose tallest player was the 6-foot-10 Tsartsaris, had no answer for the 7-6 Yao. Yao's presence in the first quarter kept the Greeks from going inside and they hit only 7 of 18 shots for 38.9 percent.
The Rockets hit 52.6 percent - 10 of 19 - of their first-quarter shots and led 33-17 after one.
Houston stretched the lead to 22 in the second quarter on its way to a 59-37 lead at the half. Yao played 19 minutes in the first half and had 14 points and four rebounds.
In his last action of the night, Yao added seven points and four rebounds in the third quarter when Houston led by 34. They were up 81-53 after three quarters.

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