McGrady guides Rockets past Clippers
Houston, TX (Sports Network) – Tracy McGrady posted 21 points and nine
assists, as the Houston Rockets downed the slumping Los Angeles Clippers,
109-105, at the Toyota Center.
Rafer Alston scored 20 points and dished out seven assists for Houston, which
is No. 5 in the Western Conference playoff race. Chuck Hayes scored 16 points,
Yao Ming 14, and Juwan Howard added 13 off the bench.
The Rockets, who are 23-10 at home this season, are scheduled to
visit the Toronto Raptors on Friday at Air Canada Centre and the Philadelphia
76ers on Sunday at the Wachovia Center.
Elton Brand posted a season-high 37 points and 10 boards for the Clippers, who
are now tied for the eighth seed with the Golden State Warriors for the final
berth in the West. Chris Kaman posted 16 points and nine rebounds for Los
Angeles, which is on a five-game losing streak. Corey Maggette and Tim Thomas
both added 13 points for the Clippers, who are 8-23 on the road this season,
and will also visit Charlotte, New Jersey, Chicago and Milwaukee on the
current swing. Veteran guard Sam Cassell (groin) remained sidelined for the
second straight game.
With LA leading 105-104 after Brand’s dunk with a minute left, Yao steamrolled
a Clippers defender down the lane for an offensive foul. Brand then missed on
the other end, however, and McGrady cut down the lane, hitting Luther Head for
a trey from the left corner with 12.2 seconds left and a 107-105 Rockets lead.
Yao then deflected an errant Brand pass, and Alston’s pair of free throws in
the final seconds sealed the win.
Houston raced out of the gate on a 23-7 burst finished by a pair of Hayes free
throws with 5:20 remaining, and led comfortably, 31-18 heading into the
The Rockets maintained control through the second, until LA closed the quarter
on a 9-3 spurt, as Brand’s free throws with two ticks on the clock trimmed the
Clippers deficit to 57-52 at halftime.
But, Houston came out of the locker room on an 8-0 run sparked by an Alston
three 54 seconds into the second half, and led 87-76 heading into the final
Brand now has 4,478 boards to pass Loy Vaught (4,471) as the Clippers’ all-
time leading rebounder…This was the third of four meetings between the clubs
this season. The teams split the first two contests…The Clippers, who had a
two-game winning streak at Houston snapped, will host the Rockets on March
28th at the Staples Center.