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Raptors' malaise in Houston continues

HOUSTON (AP) -- Yao Ming set up camp under the basket, and that
meant trouble for the Toronto Raptors.

Yao scored a season-high 40 points, and Tracy McGrady added 34
points and 12 rebounds to lead the Houston Rockets to a 114-102
victory Monday night over the Raptors.

"I stayed so close to the basket, I got a lot of good
chances," Yao said. "Tracy made the defense come to him a lot and
I stayed on the weak side. All I had to do was duck and catch the
ball and I had a layup."

Only one of Yao's 13 baskets -- an 11-foot turnaround jumper late
in the fourth quarter -- came from more than 9 feet out. He hit five
layups and four dunks, one 5-foot shot and two 9-footers. He also
made 14 of 18 free throws.

"It seemed like he was just imbedded in the paint," Eric
Williams said. "It seemed like he spent 20 seconds in there
sometimes."

Coach Sam Mitchell agreed.

"He was catching the ball down low and you can't stop him when
he does that," Mitchell said. "He's a load when he's going like
that."

That's what the Rockets were looking for Monday.

"When he moves his feet and fights for position, all you have
to do is get the ball to him and he's going to score," Maurice
Taylor said. "There are going to be many more nights like this.
They are the focal point of our team."

McGrady managed only 9-of-30 shooting in a loss to Charlotte
Saturday night. He hit 12-of-21 Monday.

"I've got a bad taste in my mouth from Charlotte," McGrady
said. "I just wanted to come out aggressive. Then I let the big
man take over. He made the game easy for everybody."

The Rockets have won nine of 10 home games against the Raptors,
whose only win in Houston was nearly five years ago.

The point total was a season high for the Rockets, who also had
their second-best percentage (51.9) from the field on 41-of-79
shooting

Chris Bosh had 16 points to lead seven Raptors in double
figures. Toronto has lost nine of its last 11 games.

Yao added 10 rebounds for his team-high eighth double-double of
the season.

Houston took a 12-3 lead as Toronto missed seven of its first
eight shots. Yao had six of his 10 first-quarter points in that
span.

But Bosh and Morris Peterson each had six, including a 3-pointer
by Peterson with 24 seconds left, to help the Raptors tie it at 24
at the end of the first quarter.

McGrady scored 12, including two 3-pointers, in the first 2:48
of the second quarter to lift Houston to a 36-29 lead.

But Milt Palacio's six points led a 13-4 run that gave Toronto
its first lead at 42-40 with 3:57 left in the first half.

McGrady had 18 points and Yao 17 as Houston led 51-46 at the
half.

The Nuggets led by as many as 10 in the third quarter as McGrady
added 11 more points and Yao eight.

Game notes
Jim Jackson went 0-for-6 from 3-point range, ending his
string of at least one 3-pointer at 23 games -- matching a club
record. But replays showed a 2-pointer in the fourth quarter was
actually a 3-point shot and Rockets officials are considering
sending a tape appealing the call to the NBA. ... The Rockets
reached 100 points for the third straight game. ... It was the
first time this season McGrady and Yao have hit 30 or more apiece
in the same game and the seventh time they have each had 20 or
more. ... Aaron Williams and Eric Williams each made their Raptor
debuts Monday.