Sura scored a career-high 35 points, including a game-clinching
3-pointer with 1:02 left in overtime, to lead the surging Rockets
to a 94-85 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Thursday night.
"I knew I had to step up," said Sura, playing on a knee that
had been drained of fluid Tuesday. "I'm hanging in there. I'll
fight through it as best I can and try to help our team."
Juwan Howard scored eight of his 12 points in the extra period,
and a hobbled Tracy McGrady added 18 points for the Rockets, who
matched a season-best three-game winning streak and moved two games
above .500 (19-17) for the first time this season.
Jason Kidd narrowly missed a triple-double with 16 points, 10
rebounds, nine assists and six steals, and Vince Carter had 17
points for the Nets, who dropped their third straight and fifth in
the past six games.
"I feel horrible for our guys," Nets coach Lawrence Frank
said. "They gave a tremendous effort ... I was only disappointed
with the result."
The Nets had nearly everything they wanted to pull off the
upset: they raced out to a 17-3 lead in the game's first six
minutes, McGrady was struggling through a rare off night and
7-foot-6 center Yao Ming was largely ineffective.
New Jersey simply couldn't account for the highest-scoring game
of Sura's 10-year NBA career. Especially on that balky knee.
"He was the wild card," Kidd said. "Sura picked it up for Yao
and Tracy and made some really big shots."
Sura helped Houston rally from the early deficit, played solid
defense on Kidd and hit nearly every clutch basket down the
With Houston trailing 77-76 following Carter's reverse layup,
Sura found himself standing unguarded outside the arc. He nailed a
3, sending the crowd into a frenzy and letting his right arm linger
in the air a little longer than usual -- a sort of personal salute
to his gutty performance.
"He shot the heck out of the ball," Rockets coach Jeff Van
Gundy said. "I just admire his competitive spirit and his heart
and his will. You can't have enough guys who have courage like
McGrady added, "Tonight he had it rolling offensively and was
hitting some shots that I didn't think he was capable of hitting.
He kind of reminded me of myself."
Yao, however, nearly wasted Sura's effort by bungling a chance
to seal the victory with Houston holding an 81-79 lead. Yao missed
two free throws, Carter rebounded and quickly brought the ball down
the floor. He found Nenad Krstic cutting underneath the basket for
a two-handed slam, tying the game at 81-all with 24.7 seconds left.
Houston's David Wesley missed a jumper as the shot clock
expired, and the Rockets stole New Jersey's inbounds pass with 0.7
seconds to go to send the game into overtime.
"I had been able to play up to my ability or at least make
those last two free throws, it would have been an easier win," a
disgusted Yao said. "It's my responsibility to play well. You
can't always expect someone else to step up."
Howard and Sura did anyway.
The unheralded duo scored all of the Rockets' 13 points in the
extra period, and even came up with smaller clutch plays to keep
Houston ahead. Sura snuck into the lane to grab an offensive
rebound and fed the ball to Howard for the go-ahead basket, and
Howard then returned the favor by finding Sura for the 3-pointer
that gave Houston a 90-85 lead with 1:06 left.
McGrady, who came into the game with an injured left thumb and
bruised left big toe, exited briefly in the fourth quarter with a
strained left quadriceps but returned quickly. He shot just
6-of-18, but added seven assists and five rebounds.
"I really couldn't do anything," McGrady said. "This injury
I'm concerned about. I'm concerned about it carrying over to
Saturday night's game" against San Antonio.
Yao was held to a season-low six points. He got into early foul
trouble, took only two shots and went scoreless in the first half.
He finished with nine rebounds, two blocks and five turnovers.
Sura's previous career high of 32 points came April 2 at
Orlando when he was with the Atlanta Hawks. ... McGrady and Carter,
who are distant cousins and were teammates in Toronto from
1997-2000, faced each other for the first time in the NBA without
one of them playing for the Raptors. Carter was traded away from
Toronto on Dec. 17. ... McGrady had his lowest point total since
scoring 20 at Milwaukee on Dec. 28. His streak of scoring at least
20 was ended at 14 games. ... The Rockets scored a season-low 12
points in the first quarter.