Wade Returns to Lift Heat Past Rockets
Miami 101, Houston 95
HOUSTON, Jan. 29 (Ticker) -- With Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal together again, it was too much for Tracy McGrady to overcome.
Wade scored 32 points and O'Neal added 24 to lead the Miami Heat to a 101-95 victory over the Houston Rockets.
The Heat never trailed and held a 78-61 lead after three quarters. The Rockets rallied behind McGrady in the final period but Wade preserved the lead, scoring 17 points in the fourth quarter and making all 10 of his free throws in the final 4:07.
"The ball is my hands a lot and I figured I had to make some plays, which I did, and get to the line," Wade said. "Gary (Payton) did a good job of getting me the ball."
McGrady scored 37 points and grabbed 12 rebounds but was just 13-of-37 from the field. He hit a 3-pointer to make it 99-95 with 17 seconds left, but Wade sank two free throws to cap the scoring.
"That's a lot of shots," Miami coach Pat Riley said of McGrady. "Obviously, we keyed our defense to him. James (Posey) did a good job on him."
"He's going to get his attempts up," Posey said. "You have to be ready at all times guarding him. He's going to get a lot of looks. You try to wear him down a little bit."
Under normal circumstances, the game would have been a matchup of dynamic duos, but McGrady was without three-time All-Star center Yao Ming, who missed his 21st game after undergoing toe surgery on December 19.
"(McGrady) played super hard today," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "He just doesn't make (shots) at home like he makes on the road. I can't explain it. We don't have an inside presence right now (without Yao) to throw the ball into to keep the defense honest. He's trying to make a lot of tough shots while playing big minutes."
With Yao out of the lineup, the Rockets had no answer for O'Neal inside.
"We knew they were going to double me," O'Neal said. "We wanted to punish them down low. I made my first four shots. Guys were looking for me."
He also made 10 consecutive free throws at one point and finished 12-of-18 from the line.
"I got a little rhythm going," said O'Neal, who also grabbed 10 rebounds. "I was getting fouled on every play."
O'Neal sparked a 10-2 run to open the second half with a pair of dunks and four free throws.
"He's got to do the bulk of the rebounding for us," Riley said. "Those are the things he's got to dominate."
"When he hits the boards like that, we're going to win a lot of basketball games," Payton added.
Rafer Alston added a season-high 26 points and seven rebounds for Houston, which has dropped two straight.
"I was trying to turn the corner and put pressure on them," Alston said. "In the second half, Tracy was doing a lot of the handling so I had to play off of that."
McGrady made just enough shots to keep the Rockets within range.
"It just wasn't enough," he said. "Obviously, we did play a good team today. At times it was tough to get to the hole. That team did a great job of keeping me out of the paint. Any opening that I saw on the perimeter I tried to take."
The Rockets made three consecutive 3-pointers late in the first half to cut Miami's lead to 45-41, the closest Houston got until McGrady's late 3-pointer.
"This isn't new," said Van Gundy, whose team is 4-15 at home this season. "It's the same old, same old. We have to put in young guys (Chuck Hayes and Lonny Baxter) to compete so it starts with competing hard. I was proud of those guys in the fourth quarter."