for this game

McGrady lifts Rockets past Timberwolves

Feb 5, 2008 - 5:34 AM By James Beilby PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) - Tracy McGrady overcame seven turnovers with a couple of big shots down the stretch to lead the Houston Rockets to a 92-86 victory over the recently resurgent Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday.

Minnesota led, 86-87, with 1:38 to play before McGrady scored five straight points to give the Rockets to their eighth straight road win, a streak that started after a 97-93 loss at Boston on January 2.

McGrady hit a 3-pointer with with 30 seconds left to put Houston up 90-86. His jumper 40 seconds earlier gave the Rockets the lead for good, 87-86.

After starting 5-34, Minnesota has been playing much better, due largely to the efforts of forward Al Jefferson, whose 33 points and 16 rebounds were not enough to lead the Timberwolves to their sixth win in eight games.

"This is a game we should have won," Jefferson said. "We made some mistakes. But last time (we played Houston) we got blown out by 30 points, and that was without T-Mac (McGrady).

"We were playing like garbage then. We're playing well now. We lost tonight, but we don't have anything to hang our heads about."

A 12-2 run in the first quarter gave Houston a 24-18 lead.

Minnesota closed within 29-27 early in the second quarter, but a series of 3-point shots by McGrady and Rafer Alston lengthened the lead back to 42-32.

Jefferson had his 36th double-double of the season (16 points, 10 rebounds) by halftime.

"That is a gifted young team over there," McGrady said. "They have a big guy (Jefferson) that is coming into his own and playing with a great deal of confidence right now. We certainly didn't under-estimate these guys."

Five straight points by Ryan Gomes to open the third quarter made the score 47-47 and set up a see-saw quarter with six lead changes where no team led by more than four points.

"It was a struggle," Houston coach Rick Adelman said. "It seemed like we had control in the second quarter and then they came back at us and played very well in the third quarter. We got the lead, but then it just went back and forth."

A late 3-pointer by McGrady gave Houston a 66-63 lead going into the final quarter and Houston opened the final quarter with a 9-2 run securing a 75-65 lead with less than eight minutes to play.

Jefferson closed the lead to 75-70 at 4:20 and, after a McGrady dunk, Gomes hit a 3-pointer and tipped in a missed free throw to tie the game, 82-82.

A three-point play at 2:39 by Yao Ming follow by a 16-foot jumper by Jefferson gave Minnesota the lead at 86-85.

"We credit them," McGrady said. "They put pressure on us. Down the stretch, they pressured us, and we turned the ball over. That's out of character for us, but it didn't get us out of our rhythm, we didn't hang our heads or anything like that.

"We just came back down and executed. I figured it was time for me to make a big play and hit a big shot, and that is what I had to do."

Rashad McCants scored 15 and Sebastian Telfair had 12 assists and no turnovers for Minnesota.