McGrady Helps Rockets Hold Off Knicks
Houston 93, New York 89
NEW YORK, Feb. 5 (Ticker) -- The New York Knicks welcomed a Rose, but Tracy McGrady proved to be a thorn in their side.
McGrady scored 19 of his 23 points in the second half and Stromile Swift had 10 points and a key block in the fourth period as the Houston Rockets posted a 93-89 victory over the struggling Knicks, who have lost 11 of their last 12.
After the Knicks cut the deficit to three in the closing minutes, a nifty pass from McGrady off a drive resulted in a dunk for Swift and a 86-81 lead with 60 seconds left. After Swift cleared the defensive board on the Knicks next possession, McGrady stuck a jumper with 37 seconds on the clock.
"We kind of let our guard down a little bit," McGrady said. "We could have put them away early but we made some key mistakes on the defensive end and we were really beating ourselves out there. We executed on both ends and there was no question that we were the better team."
However, behind a pair of 3-pointers and a layup by Jamal Crawford in a span of 16 seconds, New York pulled within 92-89 and had a chance to tie, but Jalen Rose's straightaway 3-pointer with five seconds left was tipped by Swift.
"They didn't have anything drawn up," said Houston guard David Wesley, who grabbed the rebound of Rose's miss. "It was a bunch of handoffs. I think they just tried to get a shot off. After the initial pick-and-roll, the play was pretty much over."
"It was all about winning the game at that point," Rose said. "We had no timeouts. I tried to get a shot off but Stromile Swift is an athletic player who blocked the shot. I wanted that shot. I'd have liked to seen what would have happened (if I made it)."
That failed attempt was one of the few mistakes for Rose, who finished with 16 points and a season-high 11 assists in his New York debut. He had a pair of 3-pointers, one coming at the third-period buzzer that cut the Knicks' deficit to three, and his drive to the basket set up the second of Crawford's 3-pointers in the closing seconds.
"He brings so much to the table," Crawford said of Rose. "He is so smart. He makes plays for everybody, including himself."
"He moved the ball a lot better and he made people better," New York coach Larry Brown said. "You have to guard him because he knows how to play.
Rose was acquired along with a 2006 first-round pick and an undisclosed amount of cash from Toronto for veteran center Antonio Davis prior to Friday's 104-90 loss against the Raptors.
After making just 1-of-8 shots in the first half, McGrady converted 8-of-18 after the break and added six assists. Wesley added 19 points for the Rockets, who have won three straight and improved to 18-16 with McGrady in the lineup.
Wesley also made 4-of-6 foul shots in the final 90 seconds and 7-of-11 overall as Houston recorded a third straight win for the first time since a five-game run December 6-15.
"At the end, it just came down to free throws and trying to get stops," McGrady said. "It was a scare when they went to the line and made one of two free throws, shoot a three and got layups. They were inching themselves back into the game."
Crawford scored 24 points and made 5-of-9 shots from beyond the arc for the Knicks (14-32), who played without guard Stephon Marbury, who is out with a shoulder injury.
Marbury missed his second straight game and has sat out five of the last 10 games since injuring his shoulder in the fourth quarter against Minnesota on January 16.
In his fourth game back following a 21-game absence due to toe surgery, Yao was virtually flawless in the first half. He hit 7-of-10 shots as Houston took a 45-42 lead into the locker room.
The Knicks took a 49-48 edge early in the second half. But McGrady scored eight points on four jump shots in a 16-4 run that upped the lead to 64-52 with 4:49 remaining.