Yao, McGrady Lead Rockets Past Jazz
Houston 102, Utah 88
HOUSTON, Feb. 11 (Ticker) -- Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady stepped up like All-Stars against the Utah Jazz.
Yao scored 27 points and McGrady added 25 as the Houston Rockets cruised to a 102-88 victory over the Jazz.
"I've been shooting bad," McGrady said. "We did a great job of moving the ball tonight. Everybody mixed in a couple of shots and our point guard was getting us into our sets and pushing the ball."
"The Lakers game really hurt us, hurt our confidence," Yao said. "If you cannot do something after that, we shouldn't be here."
On Saturday, the All-Star duo rebounded to get Houston off to a fast start against Utah. In the second quarter, Yao accounted for all the offense in a 7-2 surge that gave the Rockets a 47-31 advantage with 1:32 left before intermission.
The Jazz pulled within six points early in the third quarter following Andrei Kirilenko's three-point play, but Yao's dunk ignited a 10-3 surge that McGrady capped with a 3-pointer for a 61-46 advantage with 6:28 left in the period.
Yao made 11-of-16 shots and grabbed eight rebounds and McGrady added three steals. David Wesley finished with 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting and Rafer Alston handed out a season-best 13 assists.
Wesley added to the bulge with three 3-pointers over nearly a three-minute span, giving the Rockets a 76-54 cushion at the 1:36 mark of the third.
"I was blazing," Wesley laughed. "The first was one in transition and they went to a zone and I got some good looks."
"You want to set a tempo," Alston said. "We got them to run up and down with us. I love to push the ball. I love getting out there, being energetic, getting the ball up and down the court. That takes a load off the halfcourt sets."
"When he (Alston) was not healthy, or out for a while, and we were without a true point guard, we were much more plodding," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "We want to be up the floor, which is what he does best."
"I could have passed the ball into Yao sitting on the bench he was so wide open," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "He got what he wanted and we didn't put any defensive pressure on him."
Milt Palacio scored 20 points and Mehmet Okur had 14 and 11 rebounds for Utah.
The Rockets did a good job defensively on Utah's two leading scorers, Okur and Kirilenko. Okur shot 6-of-15 and Kirilenko went 3-of-8 for 11 points.
"I just try to keep him out of the paint," said McGrady of guarding Kirilenko. "He's a slasher. I told him tonight, 'Will you please stop running.' You really can't take your eye off of him."
It was the Rockets who did most of the running.
"We fought back at the beginning of the second half," said Sloan, whose team cut an 18-point deficit from late in the second quarter to six after 3 1/2 minutes of the third. "They defended us well and we had a very tough time scoring inside. If we keep playing like that, we won't get into the playoffs."
Keith Bogans, who was acquired Thursday in a trade with Charlotte for Lonny Baxter, played 10 minutes in his debut with Houston and scored four points.