for this game

McGrady helps Rockets get back on track

Mar 22, 2008 - 6:37 AM By Ryan Leong PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

OAKLAND, California (Ticker) -- The Houston Rockets are back on track.

Tracy McGrady had 26 points, eight rebounds and eight assists to lead the Rockets to a 109-106 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.

Bobby Jackson scored 16 points and hit 5-of-8 shots from 3-point range for the Rockets, who snapped a brief two-game slide on the heels of their franchise-record, 22-game winning streak.

"It was an important game," Jackson said. "We've been on a two-game skid. We felt like we had to come in here with a little bit more energy and play hard for 48 minutes. I thought we did."

Baron Davis scored 27 points and Monta Ellis contributed 24 for the Warriors (42-26), who continue to fight for a playoff spot in the highly competitive Western Conference. They currently sit in eighth place - 1 1/2 games ahead of the Denver Nuggets (41-28).

"We want to win as many as we can out of these last 14 games and put ourselves in a good position," Davis said. "We are still in the eighth spot, but we definitely want to get a nice streak together and get some wins, so we can possibly get up to (the) five or six (seed)."

After trailing by just two points entering the fourth quarter, Ellis tied the score, 87-87, finishing on a reverse layup with 6:33 remaining.

However, the Rockets quickly responded with an 8-0 run over the next 1:50, highlighted by Jackson's 3-pointer, which he threw up in desperation as the shot clock expired.

"I just threw it up there and prayed that it goes in," Jackson said. "I'm just glad I made it. I had to double-pump because Baron would have blocked it if I didn't."

The Warriors did not go quietly though, as Davis drilled a three with 2:25 left to tie the score, 97-97.

But on the ensuing possession, Jackson hit another crucial 3-pointer for Houston to keep Golden State at bay.

"We were right there," Davis said. "Even when we were down by eight, I thought we had a good chance of winning it. We closed the gap fast, they just hit some big shots. The Bobby Jackson double-clutch shot really kind of broke our backs."

After Andris Biedrins pulled the Warriors back within one point on a layup, Carl Landry, who finished with 17 points, responded with a dunk and Shane Battier hit a pair of free throws, giving the Rockets an insurmountable five-point advantage.

"We expect to find a way to win," said Warriors swingman Stephen Jackson, who finished with 15 points. "Once you make too many mistakes, it's hard to overcome that, and we made too many mistakes tonight to beat a team that's been playing well the last 20 games."

The Warriors held an 11-point lead in the first quarter, but the Rockets closed the deficit to 29-26 heading into the second.

The tempo slowed in the second quarter as both teams traded the lead. The Rockets made back-to-back 3-pointers to claim a six-point advantage before the Warriors nearly tied the score after consecutive dunks by Biedrins and Al Harrington.

Davis missed a layup at the buzzer, allowing the Rockets to take a 52-50 lead into the locker room - an advantage the visitors would take into the final period as well.

The Rockets (47-22) are in third place in the West, percentage points behind the New Orleans Hornets (46-21) in the Southwest Division.

"Any game against a playoff team in our conference that you can get, especially on the road it's a big win - a huge win," Houston coach Rick Adelman said. "That's what you have to do if you're going to get to the playoffs.

"You've got to beat the other teams in this conference, and that's why tonight this was a game both teams needed. We were lucky to come out with a win."

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