Rockets clinch home-court advantage with win over SunsApr 17, 2007 - 6:02 AM HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming avoided a regular-season showdown with the Utah Jazz by holding off the Phoenix Suns.
McGrady and Yao combined for 73 points and the Houston Rockets clinched home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a 120-117 victory over the Suns.
Houston (52-29) entered the game with a two-game lead over Utah (49-31) and the teams will meet in Utah on Wednesday - the final night of the regular season.
That game does not mean anything now thanks to McGrady and Yao, as the Rockets have clinched the home-court advantage in their first-round Western Conference playoff series with the Jazz.
"As I'm trying to convey to the team, home-court advantage has no bearing until there's a possible seventh game," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "It means nothing if you don't play well. I don't want to diminish it but for some of the guys who have never had home-court advantage, I think it can be misunderstood a little bit as well."
McGrady scored 39 points and added 11 rebounds and nine assists, just missing his first triple-double since February 23, 2003. Yao had 34 points and nine rebounds.
"I took my game to another level," McGrady said. "Other guys stepped up and played extremely well. Yao comes back and we play great basketball. I know how important it is for a team to be playing extremely well going into the playoffs, and that's why I wanted to take my game to another level."
Shane Battier scored 17 points and gave the Rockets a 118-108 lead with a 3-pointer with 2:11 to play. The Suns scored seven straight points to make it 118-115 with 48 seconds left.
"I thought we made some mistakes down the stretch," Van Gundy said. "But we had built up enough of a cushion to hold on, and that was good."
McGrady missed a jumper and the Suns had a chance to tie but Steve Nash was short on a 3-pointer with eight seconds to play and Amare Stoudemire also missed from the arc with 6.4 to go.
"It was a great game. I thought Yao and Tracy played very well," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I think you saw we had a lot of fun playing. There's nothing wrong with losing to a pretty good team."
Stoudemire scored 30 points and Shawn Marion had 27 for Phoenix (61-20), which has already locked up the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.
"I thought it was going in. It felt good. But I guess you've got to miss some game-winners to make some," Stoudemire said. "They just did a better job on the boards than us. It's hard to get rebounds over those guys. Give all the credit to them. They played great. They had a lot to play for and their focus was good. Yao was able to keep his composure."
HOUSTON 120 FINAL
Apr 16 11:04 PM
HOUSTON 91 END, 3RD QTR
Apr 16 10:24 PM
HOUSTON 56 HALFTIME
Apr 16 9:38 PM
HOUSTON 24 END, 1ST QTR
Apr 16 9:08 PM
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