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 McGrady's triple-double carries Rockets

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PostSubject: McGrady's triple-double carries Rockets   Thu Dec 18, 2008 1:13 am

HOUSTON(AP) Tracy McGrady did it all, Yao
Ming dominated inside and Ron Artest provided support off the bench.
Finally, the Houston Rockets showed a glimpse of how good they can be.McGrady
notched his fourth career triple-double and first this season, Yao
scored 32 points and the Rockets beat the Denver Nuggets 108-96 on
Tuesday night.McGrady had 20 points and reached season highs in
rebounds (14) and assists (10) for his first triple-double since last
December. Artest scored 20 points and backup point guard Aaron Brooks
added 18 for the Rockets, who've won five of their last seven games
despite a seemingly unending rash of injuries.But this was the
kind of performance expected from the Rockets since they acquired
Artest in August. Houston matched a season high with 26 assists, held
the Nuggets to 35 points in the second half and shot a season-high 55
percent (42-of-76) from the field."It was, overall, a great
effort on our part,'' said McGrady, who also had three blocked shots
and a steal. "We can be a dangerous team, when we've got the defense as
well, clicking like that, we can be a pretty good team.''Just wait until everyone gets healthy.Artest
missed the last two games with a sprained right ankle and starting
point guard Rafer Alston skipped this one with a strained left
hamstring. Backup guard Von Wafer sat out with a sprained left ankle
and reserve guard Brent Barry missed his ninth straight game with a
torn muscle in his right calf.McGrady has been bothered by a
sore left knee all season, but he looked as spry as ever on Tuesday
night. He had a triple-double by the end of the third quarter - 15
points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists - and finished his big night with a
3-pointer in the final minute, his third of the game.Carmelo
Anthony scored 22 and J.R. Smith had 17 for the Nuggets, who had a
four-game winning streak snapped. Chauncey Billups scored eight points
as Denver dropped to 16-5 since acquiring Billups from Detroit on Nov.
3.Anthony pointed to Houston's Big Three as the difference in the game."Yao really had it going, T-Mac hit timely shots and Artest did his part,'' Anthony said.The
Rockets led by six after three quarters and the reserves maintained the
lead until Yao and McGrady returned after rests with about seven
minutes left.McGrady grabbed a rebound, Yao flipped in a hook
shot and Brooks drove for a layup to put the Rockets up 96-88. Yao's
two free throws with 2:44 left pushed Houston over 100 points and
increased the lead to 11.If they can all just avoid more injuries, Yao said, the Rockets will only improve with more practice time together."Hopefully,
the rest of the season, we can more consistently play with the same
groups,'' Yao said. "Today was a very good experience for us. But it's
still one game throughout a season of 82 games, plus the playoffs. When
that time comes, it will be a totally different story.''The
Rockets opened the game with a 13-2 run, starting 5-for-6 from the
field and grabbing the first seven rebounds. Denver pulled within five
before Artest came off the bench with 3:56 left in the first quarter
and hit his first shot, a 3-pointer from the top of the key.Houston
shot 54 percent (13-for-24) in the first quarter, but led only 30-25.
After missing seven of their first 10 shots, the Nuggets made 13 of
their next 19 and Linas Kleiza's fast-break layup put Denver up 35-33
early in the second quarter.Denver went 7-for-11 from 3-point range in the first half and led 61-56 at the break.Shane
Battier sank consecutive 3-pointers during a quick 8-0 run early in the
third quarter that put Houston ahead 68-67. McGrady had two assists and
three rebounds over the next three minutes as the Rockets stretched the
lead to 81-74.He passed to Yao for another basket inside with
1:58 left in the third quarter for his 10th assist, completing the
triple-double.Houston led 85-79 after three quarters and Kleiza cut Denver's deficit in half with a 3-pointer with 10:22 left in the game.Notes:
McGrady earned his first triple-double since Dec. 5, 2007, against
Memphis. ... The Rockets are 10-0 when they shoot 50 percent or better
in the first quarter this season. ... Houston improved to 70-6 at the
Toyota Center when they reach 100 points. ... Denver had 23
second-chance points, a season high for a Houston opponent.

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