McGrady Leads Rockets Past Cavaliers
Houston 90, Cleveland 81
CLEVELAND, Jan. 5 (Ticker) -- Tracy McGrady and the Houston Rockets continued their success against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
McGrady scored 34 points as the Rockets posted their fifth straight victory over the Cavaliers, 90-81.
In reaching the mark Thursday, he helped eliminate a Cleveland comeback sparked by LeBron James, who finished with 32 points and nine rebounds.
"We know we can't stop him," said James of McGrady. "We want to try and contain him and make other guys on their team beat us. Their team stepped up."
James found Zydrunas Ilgauskas for a jumper cutting the Cavaliers' deficit to 82-78 with 2:36 remaining. But McGrady had a layup on the next possession, and assisted on Juwan Howard's back-to-back jumpers to put the visitors up 10 with 1:17 remaining.
"I think we have guys who are willing to take big shots and knock them down," McGrady said. "When they take the ball out of my hands, I find those guys and they're capable and willing to knock down shots."
Howard finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. Rafer Alston added 18 points and six assists for Houston, which has won the first two legs of its three-game road trip.
"I love coming out with a victory, but I'm concerned about giving up those type of leads," Alston said. "We have to find a way to extend it and put them away, so that we don't have a dogfight to the end."
The Cavaliers, who were without injured All-Star Larry Hughes, battled back after being down 17 points late in the third quarter, thanks to 16 points in the period from James. Donyell Marshall's 3-pointer capped a 17-4 run with 9:01 left in the game to pull Cleveland within 73-69.
"They made a great run," Alston said. "They're one of the top teams in the East, you know they have the firepower on the team to make runs."
"I take my hat off to our guys because they could have easily given up being 17 points down, coming off a back-to-back the night before," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said.
James, who shot 13-of-19, was limited to two points in the fourth on just three field goal attempts.
"Are you sure he's 21, we've got to check his birth certificate," McGrady joked about James. "He hit some unbelievable shots. I don't care who you are or what you do, one guy is not going to stop that guy."
Ilgauskas finished with 17 points and 10 boards for the Cavaliers, who were held to 24 percent (7-of-29) from beyond the arc and had their six-game home winning streak snapped. The 29 3-point attempts were a season high.
"When they are not going down we need to find a way to get to the basket a lot more and not settle for the three-point shot as much," James said. "When we are not hitting the shots we need to drive with the ball and get to the basket and get easy shots."
"You have to take the shots the defense gives you," Alston said. "So we packed it in; we showed them (the outside) shot. That's our defense. We don't want the ball getting in the paint. We want to pack it in and close out on the shooters."
McGrady scored 23 points in the first half for the second consecutive game as the Rockets claimed a 49-35 advantage at the break. Houston has been without all-star center Yao Ming since December 18, going 3-5 without him.
"I've got to assert myself because the big fellow is out and we need more scoring," McGrady said. "It's all about attacking from start to finish. Until he gets back, that's just what I have to do."