After blowing an opportunity to secure a playoff berth, the Houston Rockets get another chance on Monday when they host the struggling and short-handed Milwaukee Bucks.

Houston (44-26) could have clinched a playoff spot with a win combined with a Golden State loss Sunday, but the Rockets blew a 12-point second-half lead before falling 106-94 to the New Orleans Hornets.

Later on Sunday night, the Warriors lost 115-113 to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Tracy McGrady scored 31 points for Houston, but the Hornets rallied to take a six-point lead early in the fourth quarter. The Rockets pulled within a point five different times, but couldn't gain the lead get and saw their five-game winning streak end.

Yao Ming added 16 points, but only had one basket after the opening minute of the second half. He is averaging 21.3 points in 11 games since returning from a broken bone below his right knee.

"I believe I can make those shots, but not today," said the 7-foot-6 center, who finished just 7-for-22 from the field. "I don't know what happened. I just kept missing."

Houston shot just 43.5 percent as a team and got outscored 50-36 in the paint.

"There were a lot of things that hurt us tonight," McGrady said. "We deserved to get beat tonight."

McGrady is averaging 22.9 points in 27 career games against the Bucks, and 31.4 points the last five times he has faced them. Houston has also had good recent success at home against Milwaukee, winning six straight home meetings between the clubs, with the last loss coming in 1999.

Houston has also won five straight at home overall, improving its record there to 25-10 on the season. The Rockets - in fifth place in the Western Conference - need only a win to clinch their third playoff spot in the last four years.

This contest opens a three-game road trip for the Bucks (25-43), who have lost 12 of their last 13 away from home and own an Eastern Conference-worst 9-26 road record. They also dropped the last two games on their just-completed seven-game homestand, including a 121-95 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Sunday.

Milwaukee, which fell to 2-2 since promoting Larry Krystkowiak to head coach, got outrebounded 46-33 and allowed Detroit to shoot 57.0 percent (49-for-86) from the field.

The Bucks, who are almost certain to miss the postseason for the second time in three years, are struggling without center Andrew Bogut (left foot) and forward Charlie Villanueva (shoulder). Both players are expected to miss the rest of the season.

"We're depleted," said Michael Redd, who scored 14 points Sunday - barely half of his 26.9 average. "We're in no position to take advantage of anything."

Redd scored 34 points in the other meeting in the season series, but the Rockets won 97-93 on Nov. 8 in Milwaukee behind 32 points from McGrady. Houston has defeated the Bucks four straight times overall.

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