Tuesday , Apr , 26 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

NBA Playoff Notebook: McGrady, Yao are showing what they can do

(Sports Network) – Houston grabbed a surprising 2-0 lead in its Western
Conference quarterfinals series, as All-Star Tracy McGrady knocked down a
jumper with 2.2 seconds left to lift the fifth-seeded Rockets to a 113-111 win
over the fourth-seeded Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center.

After Dirk Nowitzki’s jumper in the lane with 10 seconds left in the fourth
quarter tied the game at 111-111. The Rockets didn’t call a timeout and came
right down the court for the final possession with McGrady handling the ball.
McGrady stopped just inside the three-point line and calmly drilled a jumper
with just over two seconds remaining in the contest.

The Mavericks called timeout and had one last chance to win the game with a
three or send it into overtime with a field goal. However, Michael Finley’s
jumper was off and Houston left with the victory and two-game lead in the
series.

“When the game was tight and we were up two, coach (Jeff Van Gundy) asked me
in the huddle, ‘if those guys score, what did I want to do, call a timeout or
just take the ball out.’ I told him let’s not call a timeout,” said McGrady
after Game 2s win. “He told me to tell Yao (Ming) to set a high screen, so I
went over and told Yao that if those guys score we have the ball out.

“The only thing I was thinking about was winning the game. Yao set a great
(screen) for me. I came off and knocked down the shot for the game-winner. ”

McGrady played 47 minutes and finished with 28 points, eight rebounds and 10
assists, while fellow All-Star Yao Ming netted a game-high 33 points and
grabbed eight boards in 36 minutes of action for the Rockets, who lead a
playoff series 2-0 for the first time since 1997 when they defeated the
Minnesota Timberwolves, 3-0, in the opening round.

“I thought everybody on both sides was tremendous,” said Van Gundy. “It was a
great game and we feel very fortunate to have won. I am very proud of our
team. Yao obviously had an unbelievable night. He just had a great performance
and I am very proud of him.”

Yao rebounded from a tough series opener, as the 7-6 center contributed
just 11 points and eight boards in 20 minutes of action before fouling out of
Houston’s 98-86 Game 1 victory.

McGrady knew if the Rockets wanted to leave Dallas with a 2-0 series lead, Yao
had to get his confidence back with a solid performance.

“What I wanted to do tonight, coming into the game, was get Yao going right
away,” said McGrady after Game 2. “Try to establish a low-post presence
to put pressure on their defense and have it open up on the perimeter for us.
He got it rolling right away. I knew coming into this game those guys were
going to try and get the ball out of my hands, so I wasn’t really pressed on
scoring. I was just trying to get my teammates involved.”

Yao looked unstoppable in Game 2, as he was an incredible 13-of-14 from the
floor and was a perfect 7-for-7 from the foul line.

“I didn’t think I would shoot this well today, but all the shots I got were
shots that I am accustomed to,” said Yao. “I could have missed a few of them,
but most of them are shots that I am comfortable with.”

A five-time All-Star, McGrady is averaging a team-highs in points (31.5 ppg)
and assists (8.0 apg) in the first two games of the set with Dallas. He has
also grabbed 6.5 rebounds and registered 2.5 steals per game

Houston, which is 7-0 when it leads a playoff series 2-0, returns home for
Games 3 and 4 and has a chance to earn its first series victory in the
postseason since 1997, when it beat Seattle in seven games in the conference
semifinals. The Rockets do have history on their side, as only the Los
Angeles Lakers in 1969 and Houston in 1994 have come back from an 0-2
deficit to win a best-of-seven series after losing the first two games at
home.

The Rockets acquired McGrady from Orlando last offseason with the vision of
him and Yao becoming the elite one-two combination in the league. The two All-
Stars have picked the best time of the year to show that they are capable of
carrying the Rockets on their backs.

DAL HOU