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McGrady comes off the bench to lead Rockets past Sonics

Jan 24, 2008 - 6:44 AM SEATTLE (Ticker) -- Maybe sixth man is the role that best suits Tracy McGrady.

The superstar swingman came off the bench for the third straight game and scored 28 points to lead the Houston Rockets to a stirring comeback and a 109-107 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics on Wednesday.

Yao Ming added 26 points and 12 rebounds and Rafer Alston chipped in 18 points for the Rockets, who won their third straight game since McGrady's return from a nagging knee injury.

Trailing by 13 points with 8:10 left in the game, Houston closed on a 25-10 run to capture the win and hand the Sonics their franchise-record 12th straight loss.

"It was an unbelievable win on our part," Rockets coach Rick Adelman said. "We just hung in there and stayed with it and made plays down the stretch. We always have to make it hard, it seems, even when we get that lead."

The win was nice, but watching McGrady look like his old self was even nicer for Adelman.

"The biggest thing, besides the win, was that Tracy was able to bust through," Adelman said. "He was going to the basket and he played long, extended minutes. To get the win and see him break through, that was huge for us."

McGrady said it doesn't matter to him how coach Adelman decides to use him.

"Coming off the bench or starting, it makes no difference," McGrady said. "Each game I am taking strides toward getting healthy and tonight was definitely a huge jump toward getting back to my old self."

Alston hit a 3-pointer to make it 109-105 with 19 ticks left and eventually seal the triumph.

After netting a layup to make it a one-possession game, rookie phenom Kevin Durant missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer as time expired for Seattle.

"I was supposed to come off a screen but I knew they would switch," Durant said. "Wally (Szczerbiak) did a great job of getting me the ball, and I should have hit the shot. I was ready to celebrate. It was a great look, and I should have knocked it down."

Yao got the run started with his own personal 5-0 burst to cut the deficit to 97-89 with 5:58 remaining. The All-Star center trimmed it 101-98 with a pair of free throws with 3:18 left.

After Nick Collison split a pair of free throws, Shane Battier nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key to cut it to 102-101 at 2:34.

Thomas was next to the line for Seattle, splitting a pair to set up McGrady's heroics. After a Rockets' timeout, McGrady took a pass from Battier and connected from the arc to forge a 104-103 lead with 1:27 left.

Thomas would put the Sonics ahead again with a jumper, but McGrady answered right back with a runner in the lane with 51 seconds left. McGrady, who shot 13-of-23 from the field, also set up Alston's clutch shot from the arc with a strong drive and nifty pass.

Durant scored 25 points on 12-of-23 shooting and Szczerbiak added 22 off the bench for Seattle, which shot 52 percent (42-of-81) in the setback.

"Guys did a good job of getting the looks we wanted," Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "But when we did get stops, we didn't get defensive rebounds. I thought if we play this well we have a lot more wins. We played eight good quarters in a row, and it's something we can build on."

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