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McGrady lead Rockets past Kings

Apr 9, 2007 - 5:06 AM SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) -- The Houston Rockets are fighting for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Tracy McGrady is leading the way.

McGrady scored 40 points as the Rockets snapped a three-game losing streak with a 112-106 victory over the Sacramento Kings.

Shooting 14-of-28 from the floor, including 3-of-6 from the 3-point arc, McGrady also dished out 10 assists and grabbed eight rebounds and Luther Head added 18 points off the bench for Houston.

The Rockets climbed within a half-game of Utah (48-28) for the fourth seed and home-court advantage in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

"I think it's very important considering that it's coming down to the last few games before we step foot into these playoffs," McGrady said about executing down the stretch. "We want to be an executing team moving forward. We don't want to wait too late and try to be that team in the playoffs. It's good for us to get a game like that under our belt. Hopefully we can continue to play that way."

McGrady said the Rockets are not preoccupied with overtaking Utah.

"No. Our focus is just trying to get better," McGrady said. "We're not worrying about catching Utah. It's just all about us individually and as a team just trying to get better."

The Kings tied the score, 89-89, on Francisco Garcia's 3-pointer with 8:00 remaining, but the Rockets responded by hitting three straight 3-pointers to spark an 11-2 run over the next 3:19 that broke open the game.

Head hit two 3-pointers during the spurt and finished the game 4-of-4 from the arc.

"I made a couple shots today," Head said. "It was a good thing. Whenever you have (Tracy) McGrady and Yao Ming on the floor you get looks because you know guys are going to double-team on them."

"We saw a huge game by one of the league's All-Stars in McGrady," Sacramento coach Eric Musselman said. "I thought he played phenomenal. I thought that Luther Head coming off the bench created a huge spark. That three kind of falling out of bounds at about the 5:50 mark really hurt us."

All-Star center Yao Ming scored 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting and blocked four shots in just 25 minutes for Houston, which hit 12-of-12 from the free-throw line over the final 3:48 to seal the win.

McGrady and Yao have both been in and out of the lineup over the past week due to back problems.

"I was (fine)," McGrady said. "I was feeling pretty good out there, a little winded a bit because I haven't played in a week. But for the most part, physically I was fine."

Kevin Martin scored 24 points to lead Sacramento, which was officially eliminated from playoff contention with the loss.

Martin's free throw with 3:38 remaining in the game gave him 461 on the season, setting a franchise record and lifting him past Otis Thorpe's 460 in the 1987-88 season.

With the loss, the Kings were officially eliminated from playoff contention.

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