Houston nearly won without its leading scorer on Friday, but keeping up with the Phoenix Suns without Tracy McGrady might be a little harder.
The Rockets could be without their star guard again when they host the high-powered Suns on Saturday.
McGrady sprained his right elbow in Wednesday's 93-90 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday and wasn't able to play in Friday's 90-84 defeat in San Antonio. McGrady leads the Rockets (6-4), who have dropped three in a row, with 26.8 points per game and is considered day-to-day.
Without him, the Rockets recorded a season low in points, but were still tied with the Spurs with 3:48 left to play. However, 84 points likely won't be enough against a Phoenix team that is averaging 106.1 per contest.
"It looked pretty good at times. We shot a good percentage," said Houston forward Shane Battier, who scored 16 points. "I thought people were in rhythm. ... Throw (McGrady) in there and that's the next step for our team."
Yao Ming chipped in 14 points and nine rebounds and Luis Scola, whose rights were traded from the Spurs to the Rockets over the summer, had 20 points after entering with an average of 3.9.
"I just try to play hard every game and sometimes I play good, sometimes I play bad. Today I hit those shots," Scola said. "It has nothing to do with ... the Spurs."
If McGrady can't play, the Rockets could use another big game from Scola against the Suns (7-2), who have won four straight, including Thursday's 112-102 win over Chicago. Phoenix is 7-2 for the sixth time in franchise history and the second time in four seasons. Only the 1980-81 team, which started 8-1, had a better record through nine games.
Leandro Barbosa scored 25 points off the bench Thursday and leads the team with 19.8 points per game. Point guard Steve Nash, who had 10 points and 15 assists, is averaging 19.4 points and 9.9 assists.
Phoenix improved to 7-0 this season when scoring 100 points or more with Thursday's win.
"It was a dogfight out there," Shawn Marion, who scored 21 points, told the Suns' official team Web site. "We were scrambling, and they were scrambling. Everybody was trying to stop each other, and for us to get that many points up shows how hard we were working."
Grant Hill, who signed as a free agent in the offseason, chipped in 24 points and played a team-high 39 minutes. The 35-year-old, who was coming off a 21-point performance in Tuesday's win over New York, is fitting in nicely so far with Phoenix's up-tempo offense, averaging 14.1 points and 5.2 rebounds.
Hill has played in 30 or fewer games in four of his last six seasons, but is averaging 35 minutes per game with the Suns.
"I'm starting to get my legs, starting to turn the corner there, and just find a rhythm," he said. "It's a process, but I feel good now and just want to keep looking to get better."
Raja Bell returned to the lineup after missing two games because of a sprained right ankle and had eight points in 34 minutes.
Phoenix has won 11 of the last 14 meetings between the teams, but lost 120-117 in Houston in the last matchup on April 16.
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