for this game

Magic hold off Rockets

Dec 20, 2007 - 6:35 AM By Gene Duffey PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

HOUSTON (Ticker) - The Orlando Magic were able to keep Yao Ming in check just long enough and Magic guard Jameer Nelson got his team's running game going in the second quarter to spark a 97-92 victory over the houston Rockets on Wednesday night at the Toyota Center.

Yao scored nine points in the first quarter, but none in the second when Orlando began double teaming him. He finished the game with 19 points and a season high 17 rebounds.

Tracy McGrady played only the first half for Houston, leaving the game with a sore left knee that has bothered him for the last couple of weeks. McGrady scored only three points, shooting 1-for-10 from the field in 18 minutes.

"I didn't think he was moving good at all," Rockets coach Rick Adelman said. "In the last six minutes (of the first half) there was no way he way he was going to play with the way he was playing, so we decided to shut him down. I have no idea where we go from here. He practiced a little bit (Tuesday) and it didn't seem to be any better today, so I'll have to listen to what the medical staff says."

"Playing on one leg like that, you're putting so much pressure on the leg that feels good there's a chance you can injure that leg," McGrady said. "It's the same thing. My knee has been bothering me for two weeks. I thought I'd give it a go. I obviously wasn't myself out there. I did more hurting my team than anything."

Although Yao's final numbers looked good, he scored only two points total in the second and third quarters and got most of his points in the fourth off of offensive rebounds and free throws.

"In the second quarter he was still trying to score," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. "Yao is very patient and poised and he began making passes to cutters. He's a great, great player."

The Magic played Yao man-to-man sometimes in the second half with Dwight Howard, who ended up with 21 points and 11 rebounds, taking the assignment. "We gave him a couple of looks and the big fella (Howard) did a great job on him," Nelson said.

"It's a good matchup," Howard said of playing against Yao. "I thought I did a better job (after the first quarter) of not letting him get to the middle and making him shoot fadeaways instead of him getting in a good rhythm of shooting the ball."

Houston led 22-11 late in the first quarter, then the game turned in the second. The Magic shut down Yao and got their fastbreak going.

"We got 18 fastbreak points," Van Gundy said. "The plan was to come out running from the beginning. But we couldn't stop them or get a rebound."

Nelson generated a 15-0 run midway through the second quarter that turned a 37-27 deficit into a 42-37 Orlando lead. The Magic never trailed again.

"We did a good job of executing and making good decisions," said Nelson, who contributed 11 points and six assists. "That's what the good teams do, and that's what we haven't been doing."

Houston managed only one field goal in the last 7 1/2 minutes of the first half, a 3-pointer by Shane Battier.

Orlando won despite shooting only 41 percent the field. The Magic held the Rockets to 34 percent shooting.

"This was one of my favorite games of the year," Van Gundy said. "We played extremely hard. Can we win a game shooting in the 30s? If you're going to be good, you've got to be able to win one of these games."

"We needed to win this type of game, a grind it out game," said Orlando guard Keyon Dooling, who provided a spark off the bench with 15 points. "We've got to pick it up on the road, we've been so terrible at home."

The Magic won their 13th road game against only four losses. Orlando is 5-5 at home.

"We've got to find a way to bring that kind of intensity to our homecourt," Van Gundy said.

Orlando's Rashard Lewis, bothered by a bad neck, still played 37 minutes and added 13 points.

"I can't turn my head to the right," said Lewis, playing in his hometown. "I'm going to have a MRI (Thursday)." Adelman figured he needed a shot doctor.

"If you look at the stat sheet from the first half, we defended them well, we had 17 offensive rebounds and 22 assists," he said. "We did the whole thing, but we couldn't make a shot. It seemed like it just went through the whole team."

Houston point guard Rafer Alston, who had missed three of the last four games with a groin injury, returned to score 17 points.

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