The defending NBA champion was too much for another dynamic duo.

Rasheed Wallace, one of five Pistons to score in double figures, had 24 points to help Detroit defeat the Houston Rockets, 87-79, last night in Auburn Hills, Mich., in the first game of the NBA season.

Before the game, the Pistons were presented with championship rings by NBA Commissioner David Stern.

Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, playing their first regular season game together, found out what Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal did during their last five games together with the Los Angeles Lakers: The Pistons, relentless on defense and well-balanced on offense, are tough to beat.

McGrady missed 12 of 18 shots and finished with 18 points after scoring just three during the first half. Yao had just seven points on 2-of-9 shooting.

"Their defense is why they are champions," Yao said. "It seems as though they took control of us inside and that was the deciding factor. Our play tonight was not our best. We need to start playing better team basketball."

Antonio McDyess was ejected from his Pistons debut for kicking the ball while complaining about a foul.

* MAVERICKS 107, KINGS 98: Dirk Nowitzki scored 29 of his 33 points over the first three quarters, helping Dallas to a steady lead, then came through by making two free throws with 15.5 seconds left to seal a season-opening win at home.

* LAKERS 89, NUGGETS 78: Kobe Bryant had 25 points, 7 assists and 3 blocked shots, and Chris Mihm added a career-high 23 points and 12 rebounds as Los Angeles never trailed in its home opener.

It was the first game in eight years without Shaquille O'Neal and Rudy Tomjanovich's first as the Lakers' coach. Caron Butler added 11 points, Brian Cook scored 10 and Lamar Odom had 13 rebounds.