Saturday , Jan , 21 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

T-Mac’s Back: Rockets down Bulls in 2-OT

=== T-Mac’s Back: Rockets down Bulls in 2-OT ===

Chicago, IL (Sports Network) – Tracy McGrady returned to the lineup after
missing five games with back spasms and poured in 35 points while grabbing
nine rebounds, as Houston defeated Chicago, 109-108, in a double-overtime
thriller at the United Center.

Juwan Howard added a season-high 30 points and grabbed seven boards for the
Rockets, who put an end to a seven-game losing streak. David Wesley
netted 17 points and Chuck Hayes added 12 points and 13 rebounds in the win.

Luol Deng scored 19 points and Ben Gordon had 18 for the Bulls, who have
lost four of their last five games. Kirk Hinrich added 16 points, eight
rebounds and eight assists while Darius Songaila also scored 16 points and
hauled in 10 boards in the loss.

“We did not play well enough to win,” said Chicago head coach Scott Skiles.
“We had way to many breakdowns, mentally and physically.”

This was the first game at the United Center since Wednesday night when Knicks
forward Antonio Davis ran into the crowd with 1:04 remaining in overtime. He
allegedly saw his wife being threatened by a fan, but the forward threw no
punches and seemed to remain calm throughout the encounter.

Davis was eventually suspended for five games without pay.

Trailing by two points in double overtime, Hinrich hit 1-of-2 from the free
throw line to bring Chicago within one with 2:01 left. McGrady then nailed a
long jumper to make it 106-103, but Deng quickly tied the game with a three-
pointer moments later.

McGrady, though, countered with a three of his own and this one put Houston
ahead 109-106 with 42.8 seconds left.

Songaila pulled the Bulls within a point, and after McGrady missed a three
with 15 seconds remaining, Chicago had a chance to win the game. Hinrich,
though, badly missed an off-balanced runner in the final seconds and Rafer
Alston grabbed the rebound to seal the win.

“It was just one of those games where you felt like you had to win it no
matter what it took,” said McGrady. “It was a winnable game. Coach left me out
there. I would be damned if I was going to come out even if he wanted. When I
step onto the court, I’m out there to compete. We got the win and it was a
great team effort.”

In the first overtime, Houston got two early three-pointers from McGrady and
Wesley to stake the club to a 96-92 lead with 3:45 remaining. Chicago did
eventually tie the score, but the Rockets then quickly regained the lead on
McGrady’s hoop.

The Bulls then tied the score again, this time at 98-98, on Songaila’s basket
with 35 seconds remaining in overtime.

McGrady, though, quickly countered with jumper with 15.3 seconds to go, but
the Bulls had an answer. Songaila received a feed from Hinrich and dunked the
ball to tie the score at 100-100 with 6.5 seconds to go in overtime.

On the last play, McGrady missed a three and the game went into double OT.

Chicago claimed a 90-88 lead on Deng’s basket with 50 seconds left in
regulation, but Houston responded. McGrady took a shot with just under five
seconds left in regulation, but the ball bounced off the rim. However, McGrady
followed his miss and corralled the long rebound where he quickly put up a
step-back jumper from the left corner that dropped through the hoop with 2.1
seconds to play in the fourth.

Gordon’s long three-pointer was then off the mark and the game went into OT.

Chicago enjoyed a 25-14 lead after one period and held a 50-42 edge at the
intermission. The Rockets, though, fought back in the third quarter and pulled
within 70-65 after 36 minutes.

Game Notes

The Rockets shot 47 percent from the field, while Chicago made 41 percent of
its tries…Houston held a 53-45 edge on the glass…Houston has won three
straight in the Windy City…Chicago’s Tyson Chandler left in the second
quarter with a finger injury.