HOUSTON, Dec. 20 (Ticker) --
This is what the Houston Rockets had in
scored a season-high 40 points and Tracy McGrady
34 and 12 rebounds as the Rockets posted a 114-102 victory over
the Toronto Raptors.
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Acquired in the offseason from the Orlando Magic, McGrady - the
NBA's scoring champ the last two seasons - was expected to team
with Yao, an All-Star center, to form a formidable
inside-outside combination and help Houston contend in the tough
The move did not pay many dividends early on, though, as the
Rockets had struggled to an 11-13 record entering the game, but
the duo showed what they were capable of against the Raptors,
scoring over 30 points apiece for the first time this season.
"At first, I was a little hesitant," said McGrady, who started
his career with Toronto. "Now we're comfortable in the offense.
Everybody's adapted to the system. I'm back to my old self,
just playing ball."
"I think there will be more outings like this," Rockets forward
said. "It makes it easier for all us."
Taking advantage of the undersized Raptors, Yao made 13-of-16
shots and 14-of-18 free throws in 33 minutes.
, Toronto's only true center, picked up four fouls in
just eight minutes and did not score.
"I try to push my opponent into the paint," Yao said. "I stay
so close to the basket on the weak side, we swing the ball well
and we get a lot of (easy) chances."
Forward Donyell Marshall
, 6-9, was one of several Raptors who
tried to guard the 7-6 Yao.
"I knew coming in I was going to guard him," Marshall said. "He
always seems to play very aggressive against me. He can
"He caught the ball deep in the paint and you can't stop him
inside," Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said of Yao. "He's a load
when he's going like that."
McGrady, who made 12-of-21 shots, just missed a triple-double
with seven assists. The Rockets recorded assists on 29 of
their 41 baskets.
"(McGrady's) a very unselfish player," Houston coach Jeff Van
Gundy said. "He really likes to pass. Same with Yao. When
you're two best players like to pass, it should permeate the
Toronto trailed for most of the game but cut the deficit to
92-87 with 7:18 remaining on a 3-pointer by Lamond Murray
Yao got those points right back with a three-point play on the
other end and combined with McGrady to score 18 of the Rockets'
final 22 points to seal the win.
"Yao seemed very aggressive and we didn't have anyone size-wise
to stop him," Toronto guard Jalen Rose said. "The Rockets have
one of the most formidable 1-2 punches in the league."
The 114 points are a season high for Houston, which has won
three straight at home.
McGrady made his mark at the start of the second quarter. With
the game tied, 24-24, after the first, McGrady scored Houston's
first 12 points of the period in a 2 1/2 minute span.
"I kind of took over the game for a minute," McGrady said.
"Then I let the big man go to work."
scored 16 points to lead seven players in double
figures for the Raptors, who have lost five in a row on the
and Aaron Williams
, who were acquired from the New
Jersey Nets for Vince Carter
on Friday, made their Toronto
debuts. Eric Williams had eight points and five rebounds in 23
minutes while Aaron Williams was scoreless in just four.