McGrady Returns, Rockets Hold Off Magic
Houston 89, Orlando 84
ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 26 (Ticker) -- Tracy McGrady returned to play against his former team. Carlos Arroyo nearly made it a miserable experience.
Arroyo helped the Orlando Magic stage a furious rally from a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit before McGrady and the Houston Rockets held on for an 89-84 victory.
Francis haunted his former team with 27 points in Orlando's 76-74 win at Houston on Nov. 8. But he was traded to the New York Knicks on Wednesday, and the Magic have no players from that deal remaining on their roster.
McGrady missed the first meeting due to back problems and was not with the Rockets for Friday's win over Golden State - their first in 14 games without him - following the death of his fiancee's mother.
"It's really hard to take. When she (my fiancee) hurts, I hurt," McGrady said. "I've just been trying to help her get through it. You only have one mom. I'm just trying to stay strong and help my girl, but it helps to be able to focus on basketball and concentrate on that."
McGrady returned on Sunday and scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds in what appeared to be an easy win for the Rockets, who held a 74-54 lead with 10:22 left.
Arroyo, a backup point guard acquired from Detroit earlier this month, scored eight of his 17 points in the fourth quarter to spark a 25-8 run. Hedo Turkoglu capped the burst with a 3-pointer, pulling the Magic within 82-79 with 1:21 remaining.
"I think looking back at this game we all have to sit down and think about the energy level we brought out in the second half," said Arroyo, who made 6-of-9 shots. "We're the underdog every game now and just have to bring energy from the beginning."
Juwan Howard, also shipped to Houston in the McGrady deal, hit a jumper from the left side with 1:05 left.
"I saw David (Wesley) penetrate and just tried to space out into the corner and give David an open avenue to look for me," Howard said. "Sure enough he found me and I knocked it down."
McGrady added a pair of free throws with 22 seconds remaining to increase the lead to 86-79, and Orlando got no closer than three points thereafter.
Yao Ming scored 28 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Rockets (25-31), who won for the 10th time in 12 games.
"I think we have a great opportunity to make the playoffs right now," said Yao, who was 15-of-19 from the line. "But in this game we lost concentration in the fourth quarter. (We) think the game is done. In this league, nothing is easy."
Grant Hill started his second game in more than a month and scored 22 points for the Magic, who have lost nine of 10 games.
But Dwight Howard, Orlando's leading scorer and rebounder, scored just seven points on 1-of-5 shooting and was 5-of-12 from the line. His first basket came with 5:32 left.
McGrady scored 14 points in the first half, when the Rockets built a 44-35 lead. But Hill hit a pair of free throws and followed with a steal and a layup in the last 35 seconds of the second quarter.
Houston started the third quarter with a 16-6 run. Yao highlighted the spurt with a hook shot, a turnaround jumper and four free throws, giving the Rockets a 60-45 advantage with 4:12 left in the period.
The Magic scored just 13 points on 31 percent shooting in the third quarter.
Howard hit back-to-back jumpers to increase the lead to 74-54.
Orlando scored the next six points, including a jumper and a steal and a layup by Arroyo, to start its 25-8 run. Arroyo made two free throws to pull the Magic within 80-76 with 1:51 left.
"Carlos is a good player, clever with the ball, good with the pick-and-roll and a good competitor," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "He and (Keyon) Dooling give them a lot of energy at the point guard position."
Yao converted two free throws before Turkoglu hit his 3-pointer with 1:21 remaining.