His NBA debut convinced Akeem Olajuwon--the Houston Rockets' 7-foot, million-dollar, first-round draft choice -- that he's going to enjoy playing in the same lineup with 7-4 Ralph Sampson.

"I felt comfortable (playing with Sampson). I like it," Olajuwon said after the Rockets' 121-111 victory yesterday over the Mavericks in Dallas.

Sampson, moved from center to power forward to accommodate Olajuwon, said he, too, was pleased with the way they worked together.

"I told Akeem, 'The ball's coming to you and you do your thing,' " Sampson said. "I told him, 'I'll be on the other side if you miss.'"

Olajuwon, drafted from the University of Houston as a junior, scored 24 points and had nine rebounds. Sampson had 19 points, 13 rebounds.

Olajuwon had two points when he committed his second foul with 5:07 gone in the first quarter and Rockets Coach Bill Fitch pulled him out.

Fitch reinserted Olajuwon at the start of the second half, and he responded with 14 points.

John Lucas, who finished with 23 points, triggered a run of 14 second-quarter points as the Rockets turned a four-point deficit into a lead of 10. They never trailed again.

Mark Aguirre led Dallas with 30 points. U.S. Olympian Sam Perkins, Dallas' first-round draft pick, had 12 points and eight rebounds.