Sunday , Apr , 24 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

McGrady, Rockets move one-up on Dallas

=== McGrady, Rockets move one-up on Dallas ===

Dallas, TX (Sports Network) – Tracy McGrady poured in a game-high 34 points
to lead the Houston Rockets past the Dallas Mavericks, 98-86, in Game 1 of the
Western Conference quarterfinals.

“We just wanted to come out and hit those guys first,” McGrady said. “That was
the most important thing. Those guys are a different ball club than we faced
the last time. Coming into the game, we wanted to hit them first and control
the tempo.”

Mike James contributed a playoff career-high 16 points for the Rockets, seeded
fifth in the West, as they grabbed a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series
with Game 2 slated for Monday at the AmericanAirlines Center.

The Rockets, who were eliminated in five games by the Los Angeles Lakers in
the opening round last season, have not won a playoff series since 1997.

Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 21 points, but hit just one field goal in the
second half. Josh Howard and Jason Terry added 17 points apiece for the
fourth-seeded Mavericks, who entered the postseason with wins in their final
nine regular season contests.

“The Rockets played a terrific game,” Mavericks head coach Avery Johnson
stated. “They out in the first quarter and set the tone for the whole game. We
were playing catch up for the rest of the game.”

Nowitzki committed six of the Mavericks 13 turnovers tonight. In three regular
season matchups versus Houston, he committed at total of two turnovers in 127
minutes of play.

Trailing by as many as 19 in the first half, Dallas got back into the contest
in the third quarter, as it used an 11-2 run – including seven straight points
at one point – to creep within seven, 67-60, and went into the final 12
minutes trailing 70-63.

The Mavericks continued to keep the heat on Houston in the early stages of the
final quarter and pulled within four, 75-71, on three Jerry Stackhouse free

That would be as close as Dallas would get, though, as James scored six of the
next eight points to give the Rockets an eight-point lead. After a Stackhouse
layup, Houston answered at the other end with a Jon Barry three to make it
84-73 with 5:50 left in the game.

Dallas did not threaten after that, as Houston rolled to the 12-point victory.

“Once we go back and look at the tape we’re going to be kind of disappointed
in a lot of the things we talked about,” Stackhouse said. “We just didn’t
execute defensively. I think we’ll be better offensively, but we’ve just got
to lock into what they are trying to do.”

Yao Ming and Dikembe Mutombo combined for 19 points and 16 rebounds for
Houston, which has now won eight straight and 19 of their last 25 games.

Tied at 14 with just over four minutes to play in the first, the Rockets
closed the stanza with a 12-2 run to carry a 10-point advantage into the
second quarter.

Houston continued to pour it on in the early stages of the second, as it went
up by as many as 19, 39-20, just 3:20 into the period on a McGrady three-
pointer, which capped an 8-0 spurt.

Dallas managed to get the deficit down to 11, but went into the locker room
trailing 52-40.

McGrady had 17 points to lead all scorers, while Nowitzki paced the Mavericks
through the first 24 minutes with 11 points.