McGrady, Rockets Cruise Past Bobcats
Houston 102, Charlotte 78
HOUSTON, Jan. 25 (Ticker) -- Before leaving with a bloody nose, Tracy McGrady left the Charlotte Bobcats battered.
McGrady scored 15 of his 29 points in the third quarter as the Houston Rockets pulled away for a 102-78 victory over the injury-riddled Bobcats, who have lost a season-high nine straight games.
"I'm not worried about it being broken," McGrady said. "It's not going to prevent me from playing in our next game."
In the third quarter, McGrady outscored the Bobcats, who managed just 14 points. He helped the Rockets turn a seven-point halftime lead into an 82-58 bulge.
McGrady made 10-of-25 shots and 8-of-14 free throws while grabbing eight rebounds and handing out six assists in 29 minutes. His services were not needed in the fourth quarter, with the game in hand.
Since his return to the lineup, McGrady is averaging 37 points and has helped the Rockets win three of four games.
"Take away Tracy McGrady and (the Bobcats) have as good of players as we do," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "I don't want to undersell the win here tonight, it wasn't easy, but ... it's not like we overwhelmed them with talent, that's for sure."
Lonny Baxter scored 18 points and matched a career high with 11 rebounds for the Rockets, who beat the Bobcats for the first time in four all-time meetings. They ended a seven-game home slide dating to Dec. 6.
"I liked Lonny (during training camp) and he is doing the same things for us now as he did back then," Van Gundy said. "He's a good post defender and a good rebounder, but he's got some defensive liabilities ... and we are working with him to correct those."
David Wesley added 15 points and improving rookie Chuck Hayes 11 and eight rebounds for Houston, which led by as many as 27 points in the fourth quarter.
Houston shot 46 percent (39-of-84) and held a commanding 48-34 rebounding advantage.
Matt Carroll scored 19 points and Brevin Knight added 14 and seven assists for Charlotte, which shot 41.5 percent (27-of-65) and committed 18 turnovers.
"Houston played very well tonight and especially now that they have McGrady back," Carroll said. "We know he is going to get his points, but when the rest of their guys are hitting their shots, it's really tough."
Charlotte continued to play without leading scorer Gerald Wallace (ankle), Emeka Okafor (ankle), Kareem Rush (finger), Keith Bogans (knee) and rookie Sean May (knee surgery).
"We've hit the wall as a team," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "Our guys have played a lot of minutes and we're having mental lapses and the we're not getting many of the common things done.
"Tonight was an indication of a basketball team that has hit the wall."