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Yao, Rockets beat Cavaliers; lose McGrady

Dec 3, 2006 - 4:12 AM HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Despite the loss of fellow All-Star Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming had his way in the paint.

Yao recorded 24 points and four blocks and Chuck Hayes grabbed 13 rebounds as the Houston Rockets cruised to an 81-63 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

McGrady suffered a Grade 1 concussion in the first quarter after getting elbowed by teammate Dikembe Mutombo with 1:13 left. After sitting on the bench for several minutes, McGrady tried to walk to the locker room under his own power but his legs seemed to give way, almost falling before an assistant caught him.

Rockets trainer Keith Jones said he took McGrady's vital signs in the locker room and sent him home after 30-40 minutes.

"He felt pretty good when he left," Jones said. "The headache had lessened. We'll keep an eye on him, see how he feels in the morning."

"I knew he was hit, but I thought maybe he was going to get up," Mutombo said. "When we came in at halftime, he was walking around and I was able to smile. I said, 'Sorry.' That's a part of basketball. Anything can happen out there."

McGrady finished with seven points in just 11 minutes.

The Cavaliers led, 28-27, with just under eight minutes left in the second quarter before the Rockets took control for good and never looked back.

Houston closed the first half with a commanding 16-2 surge. Yao netted 10 during the run, which provided a 43-29 advantage at intermission. Houston outscored Cleveland, 20-10, in the second period.

"I need to get a deep catch so I can get an early score or kick it to the weak side," Yao said. "I think it worked very well against them.

"You don't have to prod Yao to be a scorer (anymore)," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "Sometimes you stray away from who you are. We played more like ourselves, we played inside-out."

Luther Head scored 13 points off the bench and Rafer Alston added 10 for the Rockets, who improved to 7-1 against the Eastern Conference this campaign.

Superstar LeBron James scored 21 points on just 7-of-22 shooting for the Cavaliers, who shot a dismal 28 percent (22-of-78).

"Most of most my misses were short and some parts of the game I didn't have my legs," James said. "When you shoot 20 percent from the field, you have no chance to win."

Houston's Shane Battier did an excellent job shadowing James.

"You hope he misses, that's probably your best defense," said Battier, who held James to 11 points through three quarters. "You just try to make him work, take tough shots, get some great help. I've been on the other end where he makes everything. He's probably the best player in the game. If not, then top three."

"(Battier) always plays well defensively because he's disciplined," Van Gundy said. "(But) they missed some shots they could have easily made."

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