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McGrady carries Rockets past Grizzlies

Feb 7, 2007 - 5:43 AM MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Tracy McGrady again had the answer for the Houston Rockets.

McGrady scored 33 points as the Rockets pulled away for a 98-90 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Houston took control in the second quarter behind 12 points from McGrady and carried a 54-43 lead to halftime.

After watching Memphis cut the deficit to 72-71 with 3:00 left in the third quarter, McGrady scored the next five points and Houston took a 79-74 lead into the final 12 minutes.

"That was a classic night that most teams let up and lose," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "We didn't have a lot of energy to start the third, but McGrady made two drives to give us a cushion.

"Juwan (Howard) fought through being sick, and (Dikembe Motumbo) gave us great minutes effort-wise. I couldn't be prouder of our effort tonight."

Houston's supporting cast came up big in the fourth, with Chuck Hayes scoring twice inside before Luther Head buried a 3-pointer for a 93-83 lead with 4 1/2 minutes left.

McGrady, who finished 12-of-26 from the floor and had eight assists, added an exclamation point with a slam dunk that built the lead to 96-85 with 2:45 left.

"It was a great effort from all of our guys," McGrady said. "I'm in a nice little groove right now, offensively. I'm just trying to be efficient, but my team has been great setting things up. When we play (like this) and I have the opportunity to play one-on-one and get my team in a position to take over, and we're playing good as a team, that's when we're at our best."

The last time these teams met, McGrady scored 38 points to lead Houston to a 111-109 victory on December 31.

"I thought they did a good job of getting the ball to Tracy (McGrady) when they needed a bucket," Grizzlies coach Tony Barone said. "We cut the lead to (one) and had some good momentum, but Tracy got three layups in a row, and they pulled away from us."

Howard added 17 points and Mutombo grabbed 13 rebounds for the Rockets, who improved to 31-5 this season when leading after three quarters.

Pau Gasol had 30 points and 13 rebounds for Memphis, which concluded a five-game homestand with a 1-4 record.

"We weren't getting stops," Gasol said. "T-Mac (McGrady) hit a few jumpers, and then Shane (Battier) got going in the post, too. We have to keep the pressure up if we're going to stay in the game."

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