Wednesday , Dec , 27 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Pacers slip past Rockets

Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) – Luther Head’s three-pointer drew iron
with three seconds left as the Indiana Pacers held on to defeat the Houston
Rockets 81-76.

Jamaal Tinsley scored 17 points for Indiana, which has won three of four.
Stephen Jackson and Danny Granger scored 13 points apiece and Jeff Foster
grabbed 16 rebounds for the Pacers.

“It was a really tough game, a low-scoring grinding game,” said Pacers head
coach Rick Carlisle.

Al Harrington scored 23 points and grabbed 14 boards in defeat.

Tracy McGrady, who returned after a seven-game absence battling back spasms,
led the Rockets with 19 points. Rafer Alston scored 15 points for Houston,
which lost its third in four games and was playing without injured center Yao
Ming. Yao will miss at least the next six weeks with a non-displaced fracture
in a bone under his right knee, suffered early in Houston’s 98-93 loss to the
LA Clippers on Saturday.

“Because I was fatigued tonight down the stretch, I didn’t recognize their
double teams,” said McGrady. “That is how I got stripped a few times.”

Shane Battier scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in defeat.

The Rockets had a chance to tie the game after Darrell Armstrong missed one of
his free throws with 16 seconds left, leaving the Houston deficit at 79-76.
Head failed to work an open shot, though, instead jacking up a contested three
that banged short off the rim.

Armstrong hit two free throws with one-tenth of a second left to produce the
final score.

A Jackson jumper to open the second half put the Pacers up 43-29, but the
Rockets answered with a 13-2 run, spurred by treys from McGrady and Battier,
and led 52-45 with just under nine minutes left in the third quarter. Indiana
came back, though, tying the game at 54-54 on a Tinsley jumper with 4.59 left,
and taking a 62-58 lead into the final quarter.

Houston led 24-22 after the first quarter, but Indiana came back to take a
41-39 lead into halftime.

Game Notes

Houston is 8-20 in games without Yao over last three seasons…Bonzi Wells
scored 11 points for Houston…Indiana only hit 3-of-20 from beyond the arc.