MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 4 (Ticker) -- Tracy McGrady
showed why he was the top
All-Star vote-getter among Western Conference guards.
McGrady scored nine points in overtime en route to his fourth
40-point game of the season as the Houston Rockets posted a
119-113 victory over the slumping Minnesota Timberwolves, who
have lost four in a row.
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In his first season in the West, McGrady received the
third-highest amount of votes in the conference with 1,993,687,
giving him a starting spot in the All-Star Game on February 20
in Denver. McGrady's total was over 181,000 more than Los
Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant
With three 40-point performances already this season, McGrady
put on another display, scoring 15 points in the first half and
adding seven in the third quarter, when Houston grabbed its
first lead since the opening period at 63-62 with 8:08 to go.
Trailing, 104-102, in the closing moments of the fourth quarter,
the Rockets turned to McGrady, whose jumper with 12 seconds to
go forged a tie.
"When we run that play, we're about 95 percent on it, even
though other teams know we're running it," McGrady said. "You
have to pick your poison - you're either going to help out on me
or my guy who's setting a screen for me is going to slip in and
get a wide-open layup. I was struggling with my shooting at
the time, but I felt confident that if I could get any space to
get up a jumper, it was going to go in for me."
Former Rocket Sam Cassell
had a chance to give the Timberwolves
the win, but his shot with one second remaining fell short.
McGrady picked up where he left off in overtime, opening the
period with a jumper and following a 3-pointer by Bob Sura
one of his own to give Houston a 112-107 advantage. He sealed
the Rockets' season high-tying third straight win with four free
"We've got a great player (in McGrady) who makes great plays in
overtime," said Sura, who had 20 points and six assists. "He
gets shot, he gets to the free-throw line. He's one of the best
players in the league. He was able to get us a cushion and we
took it from there."
McGrady pulled down 13 rebounds, fellow All-Star starter YaoMing
had 23 points and 14 boards and Juwan Howard added 13 and
14 for Houston, which had at least five scorers in double
figures for the fourth time in five games.
"Both teams played well," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said.
"Thankfully, we had some makes in overtime. We consider
ourselves very fortunate to come out of here with a win."
Cassell, who was questionable with a bruised right shoulder
suffered Wednesday, scored 24 points and handed out 11 assists
and Kevin Garnett
chipped in 22 and 14 rebounds for the
Timberwolves, who have dropped three straight to the Rockets.
"I try to get as many rebounds as I can, but it's hard when
you're up against Yao and guys who can really rebound the ball,"
said Garnett, the leading All-Star vote-getter among Western
Conference forwards. "That's the game right there - the extra
shots, the second chances to score, the extra threes."
Houston took a 3-0 lead in the game before Cassell scored six
points during an 8-0 run to put Minnesota ahead. With the
contest tied, 26-26, the Timberwolves closed the first quarter
with a 7-0 spurt for a 33-26 advantage.
In the fourth period, Minnesota used a 9-2 burst to open a 71-65
lead with 5:50 remaining. But David Wesley
capped an 11-2 run
by Houston with a 3-pointer with 3:18 to go, giving the Rockets
a 76-73 edge.