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McGrady back in form, leads Rockets past Bucks

Nov 9, 2006 - 3:49 AM MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- Tracy McGrady returned to his All-Star form, which made the Houston Rockets very happy.

McGrady scored a season-high 32 points and Yao Ming added 23 as the Rockets posted a 97-93 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

McGrady shot 11-of-19 from the field also tallied six rebounds, five assists and three blocks. The six-time All-Star started the season with 25 points vs. Utah but over the next three games averaged just 13.7 points on 37 percent shooting.

In the first half Wednesday, McGrady scored 17 points, including three 3-pointers, to help Houston open a 48-39 lead.

"I was just in a nice little rhythm, attacking well," McGrady said. "It comes from winning last night and getting some confidence."

The Rockets also got an early lift from Dikembe Mutombo, who scored eight of his 10 points and grabbed all eight of his boards in the first half after Yao was saddled with three fouls.

"He did a nice job, got to the offensive boards on his own misses," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "He did a really good job."

Yao scored 13 points in the third period as Houston stretched the lead to 76-58 entering the fourth quarter.

"I think he's (Yao) attacking well even though we have been having trouble getting him the ball cleanly in his spots," Van Gundy said.

"If we're both making shots, it's miserable for the other team," McGrady said.

Rafer Alston had 12 points and nine assists for the Rockets, who shot 49 percent (38-of-78), including 8-of-16 from 3-point range. Houston (3-2) won its second straight road game.

"We did what we came here to do, that's get a W and that's what we did," Rockets forward Steve Novak said.

Houston had just 14 turnovers after committing 45 in its past two games. The Rockets also held a 43-33 advantage in rebounds and has held a double-digit margin on the boards in its last three games.

Michael Redd scored 34 points and Charlie Bell added a season-high 22 for Milwaukee, which shot 47 percent (34-of-73). Redd and Bell combined to score 31 of the Bucks' 34 points in the fourth quarter, when they cut the deficit to 92-87.

"We buckled down and said we weren't going to lose this game," Redd said. "We ended up losing but we put up a heck of an effort."

"I thought we had three really good quarters. They dominated us in the fourth," Van Gundy said. "Thank God the game is 48 minutes and not 49."

The Bucks had a chance to get closer but gave up possession with 23 seconds left when Steve Blake could not inbound. Alston made a free throw and McGrady - who has averaged 34.5 points in his last 13 games vs Milwaukee - added four more to seal the win.

"They showed some signs of folding, but we game them some confidence down the stretch when they made some substitutions," McGrady said. "We were fortunate enough to have a big enough lead to hold on."

"This was a very frustrating loss," Redd said. "We had very low energy and in the third quarter we had none. At home, we have to be the attackers, the aggressors."

The Bucks have lost four straight to the Rockets and seven of 10 since the start of the 2000-01 season.

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