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McGrady, Rockets come alive in fourth to rout Wizards

Nov 22, 2008 - 4:55 AM By Tim Hipps PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Tracy McGrady scored 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Houston Rockets to a come-from-behind 103-91 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday.

Like a snake laying in the grass, McGrady - who took only six shots in the first three quarters - knocked down four 3-pointers and another shot from just inside the arc to bury the Wizards in the final 7:38.

"I was just cruising for three quarters, just executing and not being so aggressive and just getting my guys the ball," McGrady said. "When it was time to turn it on in the fourth quarter, I hit some big shots. If you're a shooter - you know I'm a rhythm shooter - once you hit a couple, you just get that feeling and you want the ball.

"You feel like everything you throw up is pretty much going to go in. That's how I felt tonight, and I was fortunate enough to knock some shots down."

The Wizards led by 12 points in the third quarter and were clinging to a 91-90 lead with 4:16 remaining, but the Rockets closed the game with a 13-0 run to win going away.

Rafer Alston, McGrady and Ron Artest made three straight 3-pointers in the final 1:48 to punctuate the victory. Artest's shot from the arc with 56 ticks left provided the final margin and gave the Rockets their largest lead of the game.

"The veterans did a good job tonight," Artest said. "That was one of the first times we've played well in the last two minutes throughout the whole season. They are a little bit beaten down, so you have to take that into consideration, but we moved the ball at the end of the game and got the open shots.

"It was the first time we really played so well at the end of a game, so I was happy to see that."

Carl Landry and Aaron Brooks combined for 37 points off the bench for Houston, which also got 18 from Yao Ming.

Alston's 3-pointer gave the Rockets a 97-91 lead with 1:48 remaining.

After Yao slammed over rookie JaVale McGee with authority, McGrady's third 3-pointer of the fourth quarter gave Houston a 90-87 lead with 5:50 remaining.

"I think Yao got the team united when he had the big dunk," said Wizards forward Caron Butler, who had 12 points and seven rebounds for Washington. "The momentum just kind of shifted in their favor at that point."

Butler's jumper put Washington ahead, but McGrady answered with a bucket for 92-91 lead with 2:54 to play.

McGrady made back-to-back 3-pointers to pull the Rockets into an 85-85 tie with 7:09 left.

"We really needed those shots and he hit it right there, particularly those multiple scores, that really pumped our emotions up," Yao said. "He has the talent to be a multiple scorer and a quick scorer, particularly when you are behind, when you really need that."

While the Rockets made only 1-of-2 free throws on five trips to the line late in the third quarter, the Wizards were pounding the ball inside at the other end. Andray Blatche sandwiched an alley-oop slam and a tough putback around Antawn Jamison's alley-oop dunk and the Wizards led 68-64.

"We had a good handle on their core guys for the majority of the game," Butler said. "You knew at some point in the game Tracy McGrady was going to get it going, and he hit some critical shots."

Jamison led Washington with 27 points and 10 rebounds. He made 5-of-6 free throws and Butler converted an alley-oop from Juan Dixon, who added a jumper for a 77-70 lead after three.

Brooks scored nine of his career-high 18 points in the third quarter for Houston.

Jamison scored 16 points and Blatche added 10 to lead the Wizards to a 50-49 lead at halftime.

Rockets coach Rick Adelman put his second unit on the court to begin the second quarter. Landry responded with 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting and was perfect on six free throws in the period. He finished with 19 points on 6-of-7 shooting.

"When I got in, I just want to bring energy," Landry said. "That's what I do anyway, or that's what I should be doing - bring energy and make plays. Tracy just brought a smile to my face at the end of the game. I don't even know how many he hit, three, four? It felt good in the fourth quarter to see that ball drop every time he shot it from behind the arc.

"I just said, 'Good shot, and play defense.' It was all veterans on the court at that time."

Artest picked up his fourth foul and Jamison made the free throws to pull Washington within 44-43 with 2:59 remaining in the second.

"Early on, our defense wasn't tight enough and we understand that," Artest said. "We are not happy with the way we played. You like to be glad you got the victory, but we're not happy with the way we played."

Jamison, Butler and Blatche scored six points apiece and the Wizards led 29-17 after one quarter.

Blatche scored six straight points that gave Washington a 22-11 lead. Jamison's dunk on the run and McGee's two-handed slam gave Washington a 14-6 lead midway through the first quarter.

McGee and point guard Dee Brown made their second career starts for the Wizards, who were seeking their second win of the season. McGee flustered Yao early in the game but was no match down the stretch.

"Actually, that makes me remember my first year against (Shaquille O'Neal)," Yao said. "I was thinking I could block shots and let him catch it in the paint, and I had the same thing happen to me."

Washington also was looking to end a six-game losing streak against Houston, which it last defeated on March 2, 2005.

"It is pretty much the same story for us," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "We played hard with a lot of effort and played together with a lot of passion. It comes down to the team that makes shots. They made shots and plays, and we didn't."

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