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McGrady shoots down former team as Rockets edge Magic

Feb 26, 2007 - 12:50 AM ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- Tracy McGrady gave the Orlando Magic and their fans a glimpse of the past.

McGrady scored 34 points to lead the Houston Rockets to a 97-93 victory over the sliding Magic.

It was the 10th win in the last 14 games for the Rockets (35-20), who climbed within two games of the Utah Jazz (37-18) for fourth place in the Western Conference.

After spending his first three seasons in Toronto, McGrady emerged as one of the NBA's most dynamic scorers with the Magic, capturing two scoring titles and earning four All-Star appearances in his four seasons here.

McGrady, who was shipped to Houston in a seven-player blockbuster trade in June 2004, haunted his former team Sunday, shooting 8-of-20 from the floor and 15-of-18 from the line.

"Tonight, my whole process coming into the game was to attack," he said. "I was getting to the free-throw line. I saw a couple of openings where I could have gotten deeper into the paint, but those guys were collapsing on me."

Greeted by a chorus of boos from the sellout crowd at Amway Arena, McGrady also dished out six assists to help the Rockets win their fifth straight road game vs. the Magic.

"When teams want to double up on me, my job is to make the right play for the team," the All-Star swingman said. "My teammates do a great job of getting spaced out and getting to the right spots."

McGrady said he was not surprised by the reaction he received from the fans.

"I still get booed when I go to Toronto, and that's been a long time ago," he said. "No, I'm not surprised at all."

Rafer Alston scored 20 points, Luther Head added 15 off the bench and Shane Battier chipped in 14 for Houston, which built a 12-point halftime lead before staving off a furious comeback after the break.

"We've all taken it upon ourselves to help Tracy," Head said. "He's going to get a lot of people coming at him, traps and everything. We just wanted to be there if he needed us to make some open shots. That's our game."

Orlando drew within 90-88 when Trevor Ariza made a pair of free throws with 1:57 left, but McGrady assisted on Head's 3-pointer just 21 seconds later to push Houston's lead back to five points.

The Magic cut their deficit back to two on a pair of other occasions in the final minute, but McGrady made a jumper and Alston hit a free throw to protect Houston's cushion.

Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy had nothing but praise for Orlando's late-game effort.

"We're so happy with the win because we think they're so darn good and so well coached," he said. "To come in here and find a way to win is big. We have so much respect for them and how they go about their business."

Grant Hill scored 21 points while All-Star Dwight Howard collected 18 points and 16 rebounds for Orlando (27-30), which has lost four consecutive games.

The Magic struggled at the line, making just 27-of-41 free throws.

"It's discouraging to miss 14 free throws in a close game, it is difficult," Orlando coach Brian Hill said. "It is very difficult. There is nothing you can do with that except work on your free-throw shooting every day."

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