for this game

Rockets hold off Thunder; McGrady injured

Nov 18, 2008 - 5:26 AM OKLAHOMA CITY (Ticker) -- Without Tracy McGrady, the Houston Rockets still had plenty of firepower against the lowly Oklahoma City Thunder.

Luis Scola had 23 points and nine rebounds as the Rockets posted a 100-89 victory over the Thunder on Monday despite an injury to their superstar swingman.

Yao Ming collected 19 points and 12 rebounds and Ron Artest added 17 and 11 for Houston, which outrebounded Oklahoma City, 48-39, and generally had its way on the interior. The Rockets amassed 62 points in the paint.

McGrady left the game in the third quarter with a left knee injury, allowing Scola and Yao to take over. The duo combined to shoot 17-of-28 from the field.

McGrady, who has a history of knee problems, will have an MRI in the near future and may need to shut it down for a while.

"My knee feels like it has before surgery," McGrady said. "Tonight for whatever reason, on that particular play it just felt like it gave out on me."

"Tracy said it was sore," Adelman said. "He said he could try to go back in, but we had the lead and it didn't make sense to put him back out there with the lead we had.

"We've learned how to play without him before, and hopefully he isn't gone for long."

The Rockets entered the game heavily reliant on McGrady and Yao, who accounted for 36 percent of their offense. Fortunately for Houston, its highly regarded supporting cast emerged in this one.

A second-year forward from Argentina, Scola was impressive, carving out space in the paint - just as he did when Yao was injured for much of last season.

"Luis was incredible tonight," Rockets head coach Rick Adelman said. "He hit big shots for us all night. They tried to protect on Yao, and Luis was the man that was open."

"I don't think it's just me. When we are moving the ball well, we make good things happen," Scola said. "We're not playing great but we are playing better. When we play like we did tonight, great things will happen for us.

"But if we start to lose guys to injury, the rest of us have to step up."

Scola and the rest of the complementary players helped buoy the Rockets on their 22-game winning streak last campaign - the second-best string in NBA history.

On Monday, Houston was attempting to complete a simpler task - to defeat a struggling squad from Oklahoma City, which seemed one step too slow all night.

Kevin Durant had 29 points and seven rebounds for the Thunder, who shot just 40.5 percent (34-of-84) from the field en route to their eighth straight loss. Oklahoma City's lone triumph this season came against the similarly woeful Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Thunder played well at the outset, trailing by just two points after the opening period and taking a brief two-point lead on Durant's slam with 6:03 left before halftime.

The reigning Rookie of the Year finished off a 3-on-1 fast break with a vicious jam, which got a rise out of the still smitten fans in this newly minted NBA city. But unfortunately for those on hand, it was the last lead of the game for Oklahoma City.

The Rockets took a six-point halftime lead and pushed it out to 19 on Artest's layup with 2:41 left in the third en route to a 12-point advantage heading into the fourth.

"It tough, we are always in the game, but it's like we blackout for six or seven minutes," Durant said. "Next thing you know, we are down by 20."

The Thunder attempted a rally in the final period thanks to rookie point guard Russell Westbrook, who had 14 points and five steals off the bench.

During one stretch, he managed a steal on three consecutive possessions, with the third swipe sparking an optimistic leak out, which ended in disappointment. Westbrook's lob pass to Durant was muffed out of bounds - the Thunder's night in a nutshell.

"We play brilliant basketball for moments in time. We share the basketball, move without the ball, defend soundly and rebound," Thunder head coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "Then, we go 180 degrees away from that and settle for jump shots, and forget that we have to play both ends of the floor."

Jeff Green scored 16 points for Oklahoma City, which will get a chance at a win against the lowly Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday before a home-and-home series with the powerful New Orleans Hornets.

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