Thursday , Feb , 01 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

McGrady fuels Rockets over Sonics

Houston, TX (Sports Network) – Tracy McGrady poured in 36 points, dished out
nine assists and had five rebounds as the Houston Rockets defeated the Seattle
SuperSonics, 112-102.

Rafer Alston had 15 points and nine assists while Luther Head had 14 points
off the bench for the Rockets, who have won four in a row.

“We understand the task at hand,” said McGrady. “We know that we don’t have
(Yao Ming) down in the post who is going to give us 25 points and 10 rebounds
a night. That gives other guys opportunities to step up and take on that
challenge, and I think they’ve been doing a great job of it.”

Chuck Hayes added 12 points and Dikembe Mutombo contributed 10 points and
eight boards.

Ray Allen matched McGrady with 36 points as the Sonics tied a franchise
record with 14 straight losses on the road. Nick Collison posted 25 points and
17 rebounds for Seattle.

“It’s not a streak you want to have,” said Collison about the Sonic’s
troubles as the visitor this season. “It’s very frustrating, and it’s no fun
to lose this much on the road.”

Seattle shot 51.8 percent through the first three quarters and was within
85-82 heading into the fourth before the Rockets pulled away in the final
period thanks in large part to their defense.

Houston held the Sonics to just 36 percent shooting (9-of-25) in the fourth
and used a 12-4 run to turn a three-point lead into a 103-92 advantage
with just over three minutes left to play. Earl Watson’s layup with 15.1
seconds remaining made it a seven-point game, but the Rockets were able to
hang on for the win.

“We picked up our energy,” said Houston forward Shane Battier. “They shot the
ball very well for most of the game. We knew we’d have to improve our
concentration on the defensive end. We finally picked it up in the fourth.”

After Damien Wilkins’ jumper put the Sonics up 29-27 with just over a minute
left in the first, McGrady hit a turnaround jumper and then 1-of-2 free throws
to give Houston a 31-29 lead at the end of the quarter.

Seattle opened the second with a 12-5 spurt and took a 41-36 lead on
Collison’s putback just over four minutes into the quarter. Houston, though,
closed out the first half with a 20-8 run and took a 59-51 lead into the
locker room thanks to McGrady’s pullup three-pointer at the buzzer.

For his part, McGrady scored 21 of his 36 points in the first half.

“I just think that we’re playing with a swagger right now,” added McGrady.
“We’re playing great basketball, and we’ve got to continue to play that way,
regardless of who’s in the lineup. I just think that with me being healthy,
I’m playing with a great deal of confidence, and my team is doing the same.”

Game Notes

The Rockets improved to 16-5 at the Toyota Center…Seattle is a dismal 4-18
as the visitor this season…Juwan Howard scored 11 points for Houston…The
Rockets went 23-of-32 from the line, while Seattle went just 5-of-8.

HOU SEA