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Yao is not enough to slow Mavs

For two quarters, Yao Ming was nearly unstoppable. Then the Mavericks showed why they've been unbeatable.

The Mavericks made a halftime adjustment to collapse their zone defense around Yao, then Michael Finley and Dirk Nowitzki led them to a 103-90 victory over the Houston Rockets on Thursday night, improving Dallas to 12-0.

Finley had a season-high 28 points, including six 3-pointers, and Nowitzki scored 24 and had nine rebounds as the Mavs tied for the fourth-best start in league history.

Their next goal is matching Boston's 14-0 start in 1957-58, then the record of 15-0 set by Washington in 1948-49 and matched by Houston in 1993-94. Dallas next plays Saturday night at home against Seattle.

"We feel confident, but it's going to end sooner or later," said Steve Nash, who had 15 points and eight assists. "We're really not concerned about the streak. We just want to get better."

Yao had a career-high 30 points and 16 rebounds.

O'Neal may be ready

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. _ Shaquille O'Neal could make his season debut tonight, but if he plays he probably won't start the Lakers' home game against the Bulls.

O'Neal received a shoe support from his doctor to ease the pressure on his arthritic right foot, and he wore the device at practice.

"He said everything was okay," O'Neal said. "I played today, and I felt pretty good. We'll just see tomorrow. Tonight is the true test, when I'm sleeping."

Coach Phil Jackson said if O'Neal does return, he would play only about 24 minutes and probably would come off the bench.

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