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Yao, McGrady propel Rockets past Pacers

Mar 21, 2007 - 5:53 AM HOUSTON (Ticker) -- With their offense struggling against the Indiana Pacers, the Houston Rockets looked to Yao Ming to bring them home.

Yao scored 32 points and hauled in 14 rebounds as the Rockets posted an 86-76 victory over the Pacers, who lost their eighth straight road game.

Tracy McGrady had 20 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists for Houston (43-25), which trails the Utah Jazz (44-23) by 1 1/2 games for the fifth-best record in the Western Conference.

"I was so frustrated on the offensive end," McGrady said. "I couldn't get anything to fall for me. I don't think any of us could. Only Yao had it rolling on the offensive end."

Utah defeated Golden State, 104-100, earlier on Tuesday.

Leading, 61-59, at the end of three quarters, the Rockets turned to Yao, who scored 13 points, including 9-of-10 from the free-throw line in the final period, to help produce the double-digit win.

"If I get the ball in my shooting range, I'm going to just face-up and shoot it," Yao said. "I think it's hard to block my shot, and if I get the offensive rebound, I can easily put it back in."

Shane Battier had eight points and Chuck Hayes grabbed eight boards for the Rockets, who shot just 39 percent (31-of-79) from the field but outrebounded the Pacers, 53-41.

"We didn't play particularly well, but found a way to win," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "It wasn't good enough, and we have to strive to do better."

Jermaine O'Neal scored 25 points and Jamaal Tinsley added 22 for Indiana (30-36), which is in a virtual tie with New Jersey (31-37) and Orlando (31-37) for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.

"Houston made shots at the end and outhustled us the last four or five minutes of the game," Tinsley said.

The Pacers shot 38 percent (32-of-84) and have lost 12 of their last 13 overall.

"We did a lot of great things out there but then Houston made plays in the fourth quarter," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "We played a real gutty game, but we weren't good enough."

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