Rockets lose in McGrady's returnDec 27, 2006 - 5:16 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Making his return from a back injury, Tracy McGrady was unable to carry the Houston Rockets in the fourth quarter.
McGrady endured a miserable final period as the Rockets dropped an 81-76 decision to the Indiana Pacers.
With star center Yao Ming sidelined for up to six weeks with a broken bone below his right knee, the Rockets welcomed back McGrady, who had missed the previous seven games with back spasms.
McGrady played with energy through the first three quarters when he scored all 19 of his points. But the superstar missed all eight of his shots in the final period to go along with a pair critical turnovers in the waning moments.
"Tonight was one of those games where I felt like we had a chance to win and I let my team down," McGrady said. "I had some careless turnovers. Those are turnovers that, if I were in game shape, wouldn't have occurred. Since it was my first game back, I had some stupid turnovers down the stretch that pretty much cost my team the game.
"There were times tonight that, because I was fatigued, I didn't see the double teams quick enough and I was getting stripped. They happened down the stretch when we were fighting to win it, so this one is definitely on me."
After Jeff Foster split a pair of free throws to snap a 73-73 tie and put the Pacers ahead for good with 1:44 remaining, McGrady had the ball knocked away by Jamaal Tinsley.
Al Harrington scored inside with 48 seconds left to give the Pacers a 76-73 lead. McGrady then lost the ball in traffic on a drive to the basket, leading to a pair of free throws by Danny Granger.
Rafer Alston's 3-pointer with 16 seconds left pulled the Rockets within 78-76. After Darrell Armstrong split two free throws, Alston missed a 3-pointer with under five seconds left and the clock expired while both teams scrambled for the loose ball.
Harrington had 23 points and 14 rebounds, Tinsley scored 17 points and Foster grabbed 16 boards for the Pacers, who won for the fifth time in seven games despite shooting just 35 percent (29-of-83).
"We definitely need to start putting some wins together," said Pacers guard Stephen Jackson, who scored 13 points. "(Coach Rick Carlisle) is right, winning two and losing one, winning one and losing two; that becomes contagious. In order for us to gain some confidence and become the team that we need to be, we need to string a few wins together and put ourselves in a better position."
Alston finished with 15 points and Shane Battier had 14 and 10 rebounds for Houston, which lost for the sixth time in eight games.
"We had to go with some different lineups tonight," Battier said. "That really showed that we weren't always comfortable on the offensive end. The point is that we had a shot to win this one tonight and we didn't make enough plays at the end."
INDIANA 81 FINAL
Dec 26 9:24 PM
INDIANA 62 END, 3RD QTR
Dec 26 8:47 PM
INDIANA 41 HALFTIME
Dec 26 8:05 PM
INDIANA 22 END, 1ST QTR
Dec 26 7:34 PM
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