Wednesday , Mar , 21 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Yao, McGrady lead Rockets over Pacers

Houston, TX (Sports Network) – Yao Ming posted game-highs with 32 points and
14 rebounds as Houston outlasted Indiana, 86-76, at the Toyota Center.

Tracy McGrady narrowly missed out on a triple-double with 20 points, 10
assists and nine boards for the Rockets, winners in four straight. Shane
Battier contributed eight points including two key three-pointers in the win.

Jermaine O’Neal had 25 points and nine rebounds for the Pacers, losers in 12
of their last 13 games. Jamal Tinsley added 22 points and six assists in
defeat.

The Rockets began the fourth quarter by missing their first five shots, but
the Pacers could not extend their lead beyond two points — ending on a
Dunleavy jumper with 10:02 to play for a 67-65 Indiana lead. A 9-0 run then
gave the home team a 74-67 advantage highlighted by four points from Yao and a
three-pointer from McGrady.

“I told myself in the fourth quarter that if it was going to be close, it was
up to me to really get us easy baskets,” said McGrady. “I got a couple to fall
there in the fourth. I found guys and they knocked down shots.”

Another small run, this time 10-7, staked Houston to a 10-point advantage when
Battier drained a three with 2:21 left in the contest, and the Rockets
maintained that lead until the buzzer.

“They made shots down the end and outhustled us the last four or five minutes
of the game,” Tinsley admitted. “We are going to need to fight even harder,
mainly on the defensive end. We need to find a way to win.”

The loss drops Indiana into a three-way tie for the final two playoff
berths in the Eastern Conference with New Jersey and Orlando. Houston,
though, improves to 43-25, four games behind second-place San Antonio in the
Southwest Division.

Houston led 18-16 after one quarter, and took a 39-37 advantage at
intermission.

A pair of O’Neal free throws put the Pacers on top 56-55 with 4:31 to play in
the third, then Juwan Howard hit a jumper on the next possession to put the
Rockets back on top by one. Battier followed with a long two from the right
side for a 59-56 advantage, and Houston would hold a 61-59 lead after three.

Game Notes

The teams split the season series for the fifth consecutive season…Indiana
hit on just one of 10 attempts from beyond the arc…The Rockets outrebounded
the Pacers, 53-41 and committed four fewer turnovers (17-13)…Indiana travels
to San Antonio on Wednesday, while Houston hosts Detroit on Thursday.

HOU IND