The Miami Heat welcomed back Shaquille O'Neal with a victory as Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem combined to defeat the New Jersey Nets with a 113-106 victory.
Once again for the reigning NBA champions it was Wade who was at the centre of everything as he scored a season high 34 points, 21 of which came in the second half as his side posted 70 points in the finals two quarters to erase a 10 point half time deficit.
It was a night to remember for Haslem as he scored a career high 28 points to add to his nine rebounds as he took the chance to emerge from the shadow of O’Neal.
O'Neal had less of an impact on the game as he returned from a two game break due to a sore knee.
The big centre had 13 points and six rebounds before fouling out with less than three minutes remaining.
After eliminating the Nets in five games in last season's Eastern Conference semi-finals, the Heat have beaten them twice in a week to start this season.
Vince Carter was valiant in defeat as he scored a season-high 33 points to lead the Nets, whose only two losses have come to the Heat.
The New Jersey side also suffered a setback when forward Richard Jefferson limped to the locker room with 4:46 left in the third quarter with a sprained left ankle. He scored 16 points before departing.
Yao fires Rockets
Meanwhile in Houston, Yao Ming collected 35 points, 17 rebounds and a career-high seven blocks on Friday, dominating the New York Knicks to lead Houston to a 103-94 victory.
Yao made 15-of-21 shots as he embarrassed big men Eddy Curry and Kelvin Cato, who had no answers and resorted to fouls to try to slow him down.
Yao Ming "unstoppable"
"That is the best that I have ever seen Yao play," Curry said. "You cannot block his shot and the feeling is unbelievable. He was in an unbelievable rhythm and you have to take your hat off to him. Tonight, he was unstoppable."
Yao commanded double-teams, his presence in the paint opening the floor for teammates.
The Rockets made 11-of-26 3-pointers, with four different players making at least two.
"He's a force out there," said Rockets forward Shane Battier, who had two 3-pointers and 12 points.
"For those that do not see this team very much, he is a guy that gets here early to work and he stays late. Nights like this don't happen by accident. It's because of his incredible work ethic."
Yao's blocks matched a career high established twice previously and contributed to lowly 43 percent shooting by the Knicks.
His rebounds fell five shy of his career high and helped the Rockets to a 45-33 advantage on the glass.
"I tried to both rebound well and block shots," Yao said. "We just had more energy on the defensive side. I think the last couple of games I've played smarter and I've been able to stay out of foul trouble. I think also I've been able to do a better job of running the floor."
Yao was so effective that the Rockets won despite an ordinary game from superstar Tracy McGrady, who scored 13 points on 4-of-12 shooting.
Rafer Alston also scored 13 points for the Rockets, who shot 55 percent and beat the Knicks for the fourth straight time.
On Sunday, a clash of the two dominant centres of the NBA is on the cards as the Rockets visit Miami and Shaquille O'Neal, who is considered the best center in the NBA. McGrady said that title could be applied to Yao.
"I've said it before - he is the best center in the league," McGrady said. "I don't care who you try to match up against him, I don't care who you say is the most dominant. No. 11 on my team, hands down, is the best center in the league."