Mutombo starts for Yao With center Yao Ming out because of flu-like symptoms, Dikembe Mutombo started, playing for just the fourth time this season and for the first time since Feb. 22 (13 games).
"I've got to go from zero miles per hour to 150 miles per hour," Mutombo said. "I'm driving on the autobahn in Germany."
But Mutombo said he was not too worried about getting ready to play after playing so little this season.
"I think about my experience," said Mutombo, 42, the NBA's oldest player. "It's something I got used to. It's happened in the past five years I've been here.
"It's just a matter of taking 10 or 15 minutes to change your gears in your head and look what you want to do when you get up there."
The game was the fourth Yao has missed this season. He had made 67.6 percent of his shots in his previous three games, averaging 19 points.
With one blocked shot in his past 16 games - averaging 2.56 in that stretch - he has averaged three blocked shots in his past nine games.
Yao had averaged 20 points in the previous two games against the Hornets and averaged 29 points and 15 rebounds against New Orleans last season.
The game was a good one for Mutombo to play. Involved in many Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, he was collecting tickets in the locker room before the game "for all my Katrina friends."
Dorsey working to return
Rockets rookie forward Joey Dorsey was cleared to increase his workouts Sunday after months of trying to come back from plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
Dorsey went through more intense drills on the court than he has, but said he was still sore.
"I passed the test, but I'm still favoring it, still a little sore," he said. "I played on it a lot. They don't want to rush me back too fast, but they want me to start practicing. Leave it to me, I want to be on that court so bad."
The right matchup
Dikembe Mutombo started at center with Yao Ming out in part for the matchup against Tyson Chandler, but also to keep the Rockets' rotation off the bench consistent, especially with the Hornets usually going with a small frontcourt behind Chandler.
"I think that's the biggest thing, the rotation, because we need consistency off the bench, too," Rockets coach Rick Adelman said. "The matchups, Deke's got the best matchup with Chandler, probably. They go smaller as they come in the game.
"That's why you keep Chuck (Hayes) and Carl (Landry) off the bench, to match up."