T-Mac Scores 35 to Lift Rockets Past Blazers
Houston 100, Portland 86
PORTLAND, Ore., Dec. 11 (Ticker) -- Tracy McGrady was just about all the Houston Rockets needed to get past the Portland Trail Blazers.
McGrady scored 11 of his season-high 35 points in the fourth quarter as the Rockets posted a 100-86 victory over the Trail Blazers, who lost for the seventh time in eight games.
"I had it rolling," said McGrady, who also had seven rebounds and four assists. "Those guys were double teaming me, but it really didn't matter. I was still finding ways to make shots and found other guys to make shots as well. It was just one of those nights for me."
Stromile Swift and David Wesley contributed 11 points apiece and were the only other Rockets in double figures. However, it was more than enough offense to defeat the Trail Blazers, who entered the game with the NBA's lowest scoring offense (85.9 points per game) and have yet to score 100 points this season.
"(McGrady's) a great player," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "I think both teams are probably in the same place except for obviously he is a superior player. You can always go to him and you're going to get a quality shot. He may not always make it, but you're going to get a quality shot."
After a back and forth first half, Houston took control with a 15-4 burst in the third quarter. McGrady ignited the spurt with a jumper at the 4:37 mark to give the Rockets a 55-51 lead and added six more points before Dikembe Mutombo converted a three-point play just over three minutes later to make it 68-55.
"That third quarter really hurt us," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "We had a few turnovers in a row. You've got to take care of the ball, especially if you are having trouble hitting your shots."
McGrady hit a jumper 45 seconds into the final period to push the advantage to 72-57 and Houston kept Portland at bay thereafter.
"In the fourth quarter, when we got a lead, my thing is to not let the other team gain any ground on us," McGrady said. "I need to stay sharp on the offensive end. We did what we needed to do. This win was big for us, especially when we're on this six-game road trip."
The Blazers drew within 85-77 on Viktor Khryapa's layup with 3:28 to go, but the Rockets grabbed four offensive rebounds on the ensuing possession, capped by Swift's follow shot with 2:06 remaining that all but sealed the victory.
"When you make 16 turnovers, give up so many offensive boards, and miss so many free throws, you're not going to win many ballgames," said McMillan, whose team made 17-of-29 from the line. "We also had a lot of open looks. When you have those looks, you've got to knock them down."
Sebastian Telfair scored 17 points and Zach Randolph added 15 and 13 rebounds for Portland, which shot 38 percent (30-of-79).
Randolph made just 6-of-22 shots as he continues to struggle with Darius Miles on the inactive list with torn cartilage in his right knee.
"I just couldn't get it going tonight," Randolph said. "I tried to be aggressive down in the post, but I couldn't get any layups to fall. I was a little fatigued, but I wanted to be out on the floor."
"Zach now is the focus of the other teams," McMillan said. "They are finding ways to take the ball out of his hands, trapping him, and giving him different looks every night. He has to continue to work and play the game the right way."
All-Star center Yao Ming managed just nine points and fouled out with five minutes on the clock, but the Rockets got a big lift off the bench from Mutombo, who had seven and nine boards in 18 minutes.
"He was fresh and he looked really sharp," McGrady said of Mutombo. "He did a great job of defending and of rebounding. He came in a gave us what we needed and for him to be 38 or 58 years old, he did a phenomenal job."
"I got the opportunity early in the game when Yao went out," Mutombo said. "It felt good out there. It took a couple of moments to warm up. After that, I felt good out there."
Houston has won eight straight matchups in the series, including four in a row at the Rose Garden.