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McGrady, Rockets overwhelm Celtics

Mar 8, 2007 - 5:16 AM BOSTON (Ticker) -- This time the Houston Rockets weren't shorthanded and the Boston Celtics paid the price.

Tracy McGrady scored 25 points to lead five starters in double figures as the Rockets humbled the Celtics, 111-80, snapping their four-game winning streak.

Houston put on a 3-point shooting clinic, hitting 15-of-28 from the arc to avenge a 77-72 home loss to Boston on March 7.

"This is the way we need to play, no need to be stagnant and have the ball in one guy's hand," McGrady said. "When we are shooting the ball well from the perimeter and moving the ball well, that is when we are playing our best, get out in transition and make some things happen."

McGrady and center Yao Ming sat out the earlier contest with injuries, helping the Celtics to end a 12-game losing streak and igniting the four-game roll.

With both Houston superstars in the lineup Wednesday, there was little chance of a repeat performance.

Luther Head, Rafer Alston and McGrady buried 3-pointers in a 9-2 run to open the second period as the Rockets assumed a 39-24 advantage. The Celtics never got the lead under double digits thereafter.

"Give them credit, they came prepared, they came ready they played with unbelievable purpose," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "You could see it and they're a better team and that's where we want to be some day and obviously we are not there yet."

The 7-5 Yao, in just his second game back since missing nearly three months with a fracture below his right knee, had 11 points and five rebounds after getting in foul trouble. Chuck Hayes helped pick up the slack with 14 points and 11 boards.

"We just have to keep (Yao) out of foul trouble," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "We would like for him to play a little bit more.

"We made our shots and that always helps but we still had high turnovers and Chuck (Hayes) gave us a lot of extra possessions as well, a lot of good effort plays on the offensive boards."

Leading, 62-49, at the half, the Rockets scored seven straight points to open the third period for a 69-49 lead.

Paul Pierce scored eight straight points to get the Celtics within a dozen, but the Rockets answered with a 15-4 spurt, featuring three 3-pointers by Shane Battier, for a commanding 82-61 bulge with 3 1/2 minutes left in the quarter.

Battier finished with 15 points, hitting 5-of-11 from the arc and Alston added 14 apiece for Houston, which shot 51 percent (40-of-78) in snapping a two-game losing streak.

"Well, we were playing some pretty good defense, we were able to turn them over and get out in transition and the three ball was working," Battier said. "But this was a really big game for us because it was the first good game we have played in a while and it is nice to get back on the winning track."

Pierce and Al Jefferson scored 20 points apiece for the Celtics, who were thwarted in their attempt to win a season high-tying fifth straight game.

Both teams had injury problems. Boston's Ryan Gomes sprained an ankle and Delonte West suffered a concussion. Rivers said Gomes will have another round of X-rays Thursday while West was being sent to the hospital.

Rockets center Dikembe Mutombo limped off the court with an undisclosed leg injury, but Van Gundy offered no updates after the game.

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