Tuesday , Mar , 20 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Yao, McGrady make the Rockets a serious contender

(Sports Network) – Don’t forget about Houston. The Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix
Suns and San Antonio Spurs are the talk of the Western Conference, but All-
Stars Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady are healthy and that makes the Rockets a very
dangerous club in the playoffs.

Yao, who missed 32 games earlier this season with a non-displaced fracture
in a bone under his right knee, leads the Rockets in scoring (24.5 ppg)
and rebounding (9.3 rpg). Since Yao’s return to the court, Houston has
compiled a 6-2 record. With their All-Star center, the Rockets were surprising
20-12.

McGrady is having an outstanding season and stepped up big time while Yao was
sidelined with his injury. He is averaging 24.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and a
team-best 6.2 assists per game.

The Rockets (42-25) are No. 5 in the Western Conference playoff race, seven
games ahead of the sixth-seeded Los Angeles Lakers. They are scheduled to play
eight of their final 15 games at home.

Houston tries to extend its winning streak to four games when it welcomes the
Indiana Pacers on Tuesday to the Toyota Center. This is the second and final
meeting of the season between the clubs. On December 26th, the Pacers defeated
the Rockets, 81-76, at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Indiana has won three of its last five at Houston.

The Rockets open a short two-game homestand against the Pacers. Yao poured in
24 points and pulled down 10 rebounds as the Rockets demolished the
Philadelphia 76ers, 124-74, on Sunday at the Wachovia Center.

McGrady scored 21 points and handed out eight assists for the Rockets, who
have won six of their last seven games overall. Luther Head ended with 13
points, while Chuck Hayes netted 12 and grabbed 13 rebounds in the victory.

On the injury front for Houston, guard Bonzi Wells (sore right foot) is
doubtful for Tuesday’s game. Wells, who is averaging 8.2 points in just 26
games this season, has missed 10 straight games.

Houston is 23-10 at home this season. The Rockets, who have won three in a row
at the Toyota Center, will host Rasheed Wallace and the Detroit Pistons on
Thursday. The Pistons defeated Houston, 104-92, on November 18th at The Palace
of Auburn Hills.

HOU