Yao, McGrady Help Rockets Hold Off Bucks
Houston 86, Milwaukee 84
HOUSTON, Feb. 1 (Ticker) -- Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming did just enough early to withstand a late drought.
McGrady scored 22 points and Yao added 21 as the Houston Rockets survived a poor fourth quarter to hold on for 86-84 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, who have lost six consecutive road games.
The Bucks fought back from a 10-point deficit without leading scorer Michael Redd, who was sidelined with back spasms, behind Bobby Simmons' 26 points.
Simmons' layup with 3:08 to play capped a 7-0 spurt and pulled Milwaukee within 84-81. Rafer Alston's jumper pushed the lead back to five with 2:45 remaining and was Houston's only basket over the final 6 1/2 minutes.
After Jamaal Magloire converted a layup and T.J. Ford split a pair of foul shots to cut the deficit to 86-84 with 37 seconds left, Milwaukee had one more chance to tie or take the lead when McGrady missed on the other end.
However, Simmons missed a 3-pointer with three seconds remaining and the ball went out of bounds to the Rockets, who dribbled out the clock.
"I thought the last three was going in, but some you make and others you don't," Simmons said. "If it goes in, we win the game. I was just in the flow of the game, and our guys were looking for me, and I made my shots.
"As a team, everybody stepped up with us being short-handed. In the last four minutes, we really picked things up and Jamaal (Magloire) got every rebound, and we made our shots except the last one."
McGrady made just 6-of-19 shots and Yao grabbed 13 rebounds for Houston, which shot 43 percent (32-of-75) from the field.
"We've got to get better quality shots," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "It always starts with energy with our team. Certainly, we're struggling in that area, more so because of some health things."
"We're doing a poor job of starting and a poor job of finishing," McGrady said. "Why is that? I don't know. We're just trying to find some answers.
"Yao looked sharp on offense tonight. He had a nice touch to his shot. Right now, he just has to improve his conditioning."
Jiri Welsch had 17 points and Magloire added 13 and 15 boards for the Bucks, who shot just 37 percent (28-of-75).
"These last four road losses have been tough and everybody said it would come back to get us," Milwaukee coach Terry Stotts said. "But I like the way we're competing. Playing without Michael and Mo (Maurice Williams), I thought we gave a great effort."
After trailing, 27-15, at the end of the first quarter, Houston rebounded with a 22-3 run in the second period to take a 37-30 lead and enter the intermission ahead, 49-41.
"Today, we played pretty well, especially in the second quarter," Yao said. "We put in a lot of energy and intensity out there. Our bench play was really the core, and that was what gave us a chance to get back in the game."
The Rockets had 23 bench points and held Milwaukee to three field goals in the second period.
"I like the way we competed in the second half on defense," Stotts said. "Houston hurt us with their reserves in the second quarter. We did a good job on McGrady, but we let Charlie (Chuck) Hayes and Ryan Bowen have an impact against us. They got back in the game during that time."
The Bucks have lost 12 of 15 games in Houston since the 1987-1988 season.
"I knew if I played I wouldn't help the team," Redd said. "I couldn't go in the shoot-around today. I think I hurt myself two nights ago. The doctor says it just needs some rest, and hopefully I'll be able to go Saturday (against Memphis)."