Yao Ming won't say it. His coach will: The Houston Rockets' rookie sensation is tired.
After seeing his center's lethargic play in a 107-86 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night, Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said he's giving Yao two days off ``to get his batteries recharged.''
Yao had six points and five rebounds in 22 minutes against a team he torched for 30 points and 16 rebounds two months ago. He committed five turnovers and had three shots blocked by Raef LaFrentz, who is 21cm shorter. LaFrentz also once forced a jump ball, which LaFrentz won.
``I think he needs to take two days off and rest,'' Tomjanovich said. ``For him to have five turnovers, that's a lot for him because he's not a mistake player. ... This wasn't a good picture of him. I feel for him. He needs some time off.''
Yao downplayed the idea, even getting frustrated when it kept coming up in postgame interviews.
``I felt I had good opportunities, I just didn't put the ball in the basket,'' he said. ``That's the third time somebody's asked me -- I'm not tired.''
This was Yao's 40th NBA game. He came to the league straight from playing for China in the World Championships, which came after playing professionally in his native country. His longest season in the China Basketball Association was 34 games.
``If I hit the wall, I don't know it,'' he said. ``That's for you guys to decide.''
The Mavericks came in on a three-game losing streak, having dropped road games against Sacramento, Phoenix and Seattle. They hadn't lost consecutive games all season until then.
Dallas hit its first four shots -- all long jumpers -- and led by 12 early. Although Houston briefly went ahead, the Mavs regained control by outscoring the Rockets 29-13 in the second quarter. The game was never close again.
``It was good to see us win again. It seems like a month, not a week, since we won,'' Dallas coach Don Nelson said.
Dirk Nowitzki rebounded from a scoreless first quarter to score eight of the Mavs' first nine in the second, starting with a layup off a great spin move. He had 12 of his 26 points in the period.
Steve Nash had 20 points and eight assists and Michael Finley scored 19 points, including the 5,000th of his career on a hard-fought tip-in just before the buzzer at the end of the third quarter.
LaFrentz had eight points and five blocks. In addition to his stuffs on Yao, he also rejected a dunk attempt by James Posey.
Posey typified Houston's offensive woes by following that embarrassment with an airball on a 3-pointer on the next possession.
In losing their second straight since an exciting overtime victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, the Rockets committed a season-high 26 turnovers and had a season-low eight assists.
Mavericks 107 Rockets 86
In Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki scored 26 points and had eight rebounds to help the Mavericks end a three-game losing streak by downing the Houston Rockets 107-86.
Steve Nash added 20 points and eight assists for the Midwest Division leaders.
Michael Finley scored 19 points, including the 5,000th of his career, while Raef LaFrentz contained Houston's giant Chinese center Yao Ming for most of the night.
Houston's Steve Francis had 26 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
Cuttino Mobley added 16, while Yao struggled with just six points and five rebounds in 22 minutes of action.