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McGrady, Rockets hold off Pistons

Dec 13, 2007 - 5:21 AM HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Tracy McGrady scored 29 points and Yao Ming added 21 and 13 rebounds as the Houston Rockets held on for an 80-77 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.

It was Houston's sixth win in 11 outings despite connecting on just 27 percent (6-of-22) from the free-throw line.

The Rockets squandered a 14-point second-half lead because of their inability to make free throws, missing 11 in a row in one stretch.

That fact didn't escape Detroit coach Flip Saunders.

"We did one good thing - we defended very well at the free-throw line," Saunders said. "Probably as good as anyone has defended in the game."

McGrady didn't have an answer for the Rockets' free-throw woes.

"Yao missed his first two and I was 0-for-5," McGrady said. "We did a poor job. For us to come out with this win, it's just really unexplainable."

However, Yao sank two free throws and made a hook over Rasheed Wallace to give the Rockets a 79-71 advantage with 1:58 left in the fourth quarter.

However, Detroit rallied within two as Wallace knocked down a deep 3-pointer from the top of the key and Richard Hamilton added another just seconds later to slice the deficit to 79-77 at the 1:22 mark.

After both teams went empty on consecutive possessions, Detroit had two good attempts on possible game-winning 3-pointers, but Wallace misfired from the right wing and Chauncey Billups came up short with two seconds left.

"It felt good (the shot)," said Billups, who had 15 points and seven assists. "But that's an indication of the way the night went."

"We got some good looks at the end," Detroit forward Antonio McDyess said. "I thought Chauncey was going to make his. (Wallace and Billups) are two good shooters."

Yao split a pair from the line, giving the Pistons one last try to pull it out, but Rafer Alston stripped McDyess on an attempted shot from the arc as the horn sounded.

"(Alston) grazed my arm," McDyess said. "You can call or it not, I guess."

"We were coming off two bad losses on the East Coast and coming home for three games that are against the top teams in the NBA," McGrady said. "We knew this team played (Tuesday), and we wanted to jump on them right away."

Alston finished with 10 points and six assists in this one after missing the previous two contests because of a strained groin.

Wallace poured in 21 points to lead three other starters in double figures as Detroit watched its four-game road winning streak come to an end.

"We weren't really tired, but we didn't get it done at the end," Wallace said. "We are going to see those chumps again. We are going to bust their (butt) the next time we see them. We're going to see them again, and they better be ready."

Late in the fourth, McDyess left for a few minutes due to a sprained ankle before returning after getting it taped.

"It's real tender and I hope it doesn't swell," McDyess said. "It's just a sprained ankle, and I've had quite a few of those in my career. We'll have to see how it feels (Thursday)."

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