HOUSTON, April 6 (Ticker) -- Tracy McGrady
got back to scoring, but the
rest of the Orlando Magic continue to struggle.
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McGrady scored 28 points but did not get much help as the Magic
lost their fourth straight game, a 114-93 setback to the Houston
On Saturday in Dallas, McGrady did not start due to strained
muscles in his ribs. He scored just 12 points in 25 minutes,
marking the first time in 46 games the NBA scoring leader did
not tally at least 20 points.
McGrady scored 24 points in the first half and played sparingly
in the second half. He was Orlando's only scorer in double
figures until Steven Hunter
hit a jumper with 35 seconds left,
giving him 11 points.
"I felt pretty good," McGrady said. "At times I felt the pain,
but I tried to block it out and just go through it."
Orlando (39-38) has been outscored by an average of 14.3 points
during its skid to fall two games behind sixth-place Boston in
the Eastern Conference.
"You don't want to go into the playoffs playing like crap,
because if you do, you won't be there long," Magic coach Doc
Rivers said. "The goal shouldn't be just to make the playoffs,
it should be to do something in the playoffs."
Houston (40-37) kept the pressure on Phoenix in the race for the
final postseason berth in the West. The Rockets moved to
within a half-game of the Phoenix Suns, who lost in overtime to
the Los Angeles Lakers.
"We know it's going down to the wire," said Rockets swingman
, who scored 11 points on 3-of-7 3-point shooting.
"We've just got to take care of business."
scored 10 of his 23 points in the second quarter
as Houston took a 58-48 lead. Steve Francis
had 10 of his 21 in
the third period as Houston expanded the margin to 20 points
before cruising home.
"We got down big in the third quarter and we had to make a
choice whether to pack it in or whether to fight back," Magic
forward Pat Garrity
said. "The choice we made tonight was to
pack up and go home. That's disappointing."
The Rockets improved to 14-2 when Mobley and Francis each score
"We all know what we can do," Francis said. "We know how we can
play. We've just got to be consistent. If we continue to play
together, pass the basketball and hit a guy when he's open, then
we'll be alright."
Rookie center Yao Ming
added 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting for
"We did a great job on the defensive end," acting Rockets coach
Larry Smith said. "We credit that to key stops and a really good
job on the boards."
Houston outrebounded Orlando, 46-28, led by nine from James
and eight apiece from Yao and Kelvin Cato.
"There wasn't enough effort from our team," Rivers said. "We
acted like it was time to go home instead of fighting. This was
the first time in years I thought we caved in."
The Rockets had six players in double figures and shot 51
percent (40-of-79) from the field.