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McGrady pours in 32 as Rockets rout biteless Timberwolves

Feb 6, 2007 - 5:46 AM HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Tracy McGrady made up for a season of misery against the Minnesota Timberwolves in just one quarter.

McGrady scored 16 of his 32 points in the third quarter and the Houston Rockets cruised to a 105-77 victory over the struggling Timberwolves.

Juwan Howard scored 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the first half as the Rockets opened a 50-30 lead at the break en route to closing out a five-game homestand with four wins. Houston bounced back fine from an 87-74 loss to New Orleans on Saturday.

"Anytime you lose a ballgame, especially at home when you're rolling, it really is going to make or break you," McGrady said. "Which hill you want to climb, do you want to go backwards or are you going to move forwards and get over that loss. The maturity and character this team showed, we bounced back pretty (darn) good."

"We wanted to finish out this homestand," Houston forward Shane Battier said. "It would have been great to go 5-0, but we'll take 4-1. If we play with energy and focus like we showed tonight early on, we're a good team. When we don't, we struggle."

A scoring machine, McGrady had been held in check in the first three games this season - two losses - against Minnesota, averaging just 17.7 points and shooting 33 percent.

"You can't look at (Minnesota's) record. They're a (heck) of a defensive team," McGrady said. "Garnett is a handful to deal with, especially with us being a small team. Our big guys did a heck of a job (making shots) to free me up. With that being said, we brought the energy and the concentration that we needed to win this ballgame, and we got it done."

Houston shot 47 percent (40-of-85), including 9-of-20 from the arc, held a 17-0 edge in fast-break points and 42-18 edge in points in the paints. The Rockets turned it over just six times and forced 17 turnovers.

"That's the type of team we need to be night in and night out," McGrady said. "We had great energy, defensive intensity and execution. We need to be consistent about that, and if we do, we can be one heck of a ballclub."

The 6-8 scorer struggled from the floor in the first half Monday, shooting only 6-of-17, but he still managed 16 points. The All-Star came out on fire after the break, knocking down 6-of-10 shots and adding three assists as the Rockets broke open an 82-52 lead.

"I loved the way we played tonight, the energy level we had," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "I thought our big guys were great. I thought Mac's energy even though he wasn't making (shots) in the first half was tremendous."

McGrady finished 12-of-27 from the floor with five rebounds and four assists.

"He's capable of doing that," Minnesota interim coach Randy Wittman said."He can make tough shots, and the others feed off him, and then the other guys are open and they start hitting their shots."

Howard finished with 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting and added eight rebounds.

Luther Head tied his career high with five 3-pointers in seven attempts and scored 20 points for the Rockets, who shot 47 percent (40-of-85) and committed just six turnovers.

"McGrady set the tone with his energy, he's out there running around creating shots for himself and making them," Head said. "When he plays like that, everyone feeds off him."

Kevin Garnett had 18 points and 12 rebounds for Minnesota, which has lost four straight and 10-of-12.

"This loss is the whole damn team," Wittman said. "We didn't have anybody come out with heart or desire. I told our guys before the game to cherish the ball. You have to value the ball against one of the best defensive teams in the NBA."

Ricky Davis scored just three points on 1-of-5 shooting and committed six turnovers in 25 minutes. Mike James was the only other starter in double figures with 10 points.

"We'll see who wants to play, even if it is only five guys," Wittman said. "I want to see who wants to play every night. I have three or four guys I can count on every night and that is about it."

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