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Rockets top Raptors for fifth win in six games

Mar 17, 2007 - 5:25 AM TORONTO (Ticker) -- Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming proved to be a dynamic duo for the Houston Rockets.

McGrady scored 24 points and Yao added 23 with 12 rebounds as the Rockets won for the fifth time in six games with a 114-100 triumph over the Toronto Raptors.

Posting its first road win over Toronto since March 5, 2003, Houston (41-25) moved within 2 1/2 games of the Utah Jazz (43-22) for fourth place in the Western Conference.

"We want to be playing our best ball going in to the postseason," McGrady said. "Look at teams that are ahead of us, San Antonio, Dallas and Phoenix. They are in championship form and that's what we are working on."

The Rockets took command early, using an 18-2 run to open a 29-11 lead late in the first quarter. Rafer Alston hit a pair of 3-pointers and McGrady added another en route to 11 points in the period.

"We set the tone and got it going right away down on the defensive end," McGrady said. "Tonight was all about executing, staying focused, staying poised, knowing that they were going to make a run."

"Tonight, we got out quick made some shots and got in a rhythm," Alston said. "We had quite a few guys going and it was hard for them to cut the lead to under 10."

After the Raptors got within 62-53 at the half, Yao scored six straight points for the Rockets midway through the third quarter and McGrady had Houston's last nine of the period to widen the margin to 87-72.

"I thought (Yao) was better in the second half than the first," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "I thought his pick-and-roll defense was better than it has been, as was his rebounding."

Alston just missed a triple-double with 23 points, nine assists and eight rebounds and Juwan Howard scored 10 points for Houston, which had a 47-33 rebounding edge.

"You would like to play that type of game every night, (an) all-around sound game," Alston said. "Help out all over the court defensively. Whenever you can help out Tracy and Yao with scoring, it's a thrill."

T.J. Ford scored 18 points, Juan Dixon added 17 and Chris Bosh 16 with 19 rebounds for the Raptors (36-30), who have a six-game lead over the New Jersey Nets (30-36) in the Atlantic Division race.

"They shot the ball very well in our house and we did the same thing in theirs," Bosh said. "A game like this, you can't really get too down on yourself because we did what we were supposed to do and they just made shots."

"They're a good ballclub," Ford said. "We stuck to our game plan and they made us pay for it. ... I see how teams feel when we're rolling. We tried everything to stop them and we just couldn't."

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