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McGrady, Yao help Rockets crush Nuggets

Nov 25, 2007 - 6:21 AM HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Tracy McGrady scored 35 points to help the Houston Rockets snap their a season-worst six-game losing streak with Saturday's 109-81 victory over the Denver Nuggets.

Yao Ming collected 22 points and 13 rebounds and Shane Battier added eight and a season-high 12 for Houston, which wasted little time taking care of business in this one.

The Rockets outscored the Nuggets, 34-13, in the opening quarter behind 18 combined points from McGrady and Yao. Houston shot 59 percent (16-of-27) from the field in the period.

"The way we played is the way we played the first six or seven games," McGrady said. "This was a game that could have really set us back because we have a very tough road trip coming up. We knew we had to get this win to gain momentum for this road trip."

McGrady made 13-of-23 shots en route to reaching the 30-point plateau for the fifth time this season.

"(Saturday) was just one of those nights where I think we came out with great intensity and, most importantly, we executed," McGrady said. "I played off the ball a lot, and we got Yao the ball a lot."

With 4:13 remaining in the second and a 20-point bulge already in hand, the duo scored the Rockets' final eight points of the half for a commanding 58-40 edge at the break.

"It starts with us," Yao said. "We have to clear our mind and know what we have to do first. It starts with us and then goes to the rest of the team. When they tried to double-team Tracy, it was a very good read there, and we just moved the ball to the right people."

Battier hopes the win is the beginning of a much-needed hot streak for the Rockets.

"We got back to playing Rockets basketball and moving the ball," Battier said. "We were active, and when we are active we're a tough team to beat.

"I know the crowd got a little anxious in the fourth quarter when we were up by 20, but T-Mac came in and settled things down. It's a win that we need to take on the road and build on."

It was the second disappointing loss in three games for Denver, which had its season-best six-game winning streak snapped, 101-90, by the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

Allen Iverson scored 18 points and Carmelo Anthony added 17 and a season-best 12 boards for the Nuggets, who shot 35 percent (28-of-79) and committed 18 turnovers.

"I don't like making excuses. It was their night, and I take my hat off to them," Anthony said. "We woke up in the third quarter, but it was too late."

Anthony expected a big game from McGrady.

"When he gets it going, the rim gets so big and everything went his way," He said. "I knew coming in he was looking for a big offensive game like that."

Denver's Kenyon Martin left in the second with a sprained right knee and will be evaluated Sunday. The former All-Star forward endured his second microfracture this past offseason.

"It was really tough on me," Nuggets center Marcus Camby said. "I was out on the court with four smaller players. We're going to need some help on the boards. We will have to find an answer."

Martin's injury compounds a problem for the shorthanded Nuggets, a fact that hasn't escaped coach George Karl.

"Houston got a lot of hustle points and their rebounds were big," Karl said. "Teams have zoned us and packed inside, and we haven't been doing well. We all have to stick together and figure out how teams are defending us. I have more concerns with our offense than I have with our defense."

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