McGrady scores 22, Yao 21 as Rockets top Bucks

HOUSTON (AP) -- Once Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming overcame their
problems, the Houston Rockets got past the Milwaukee Bucks.

McGrady scored 22 points despite a slow start because of his
ailing back, Yao added 21 despite a difficult fourth quarter, and
the Rockets rallied from an early 13-point deficit to beat the
Bucks 86-84 on Wednesday night.

"Tracy got going pretty well after a while, but the first half
his back was quite bothersome," coach Jeff Van Gundy said.
"Obviously, Yao had some fatigue problems. He never could quite
get going in the fourth quarter."

McGrady has been out three times and missed 13 games because of
back spasms this season.

"It was just tight tonight," McGrady said. "It wasn't any
pain. It was one of those days when you roll out of bed and your
body's sore and your back is tight. I couldn't get loose and I just
couldn't seem to get anything right in the first half."

McGrady, the NBA's fifth-leading scorer at 26.9 points per game,
was 1-for-6 from the field and had only six points in the first
half as Houston took a 49-41 lead.

But he warmed up in the third quarter, shooting 4-of-7 and
scoring 13 points as Houston led by as many as 13.

Yao, in his second game back after missing 21 games due to
surgery on his left big toe, also had 13 rebounds for his 11th
double-double of the season. But he scored only eight points in the
second half, two in the fourth quarter.

"I think I'm still not in great shape now because it's only
been two games," Yao said. "We struggled scoring in the fourth
quarter and let them back in the game. But we played pretty good
defense the last couple of minutes."

Milwaukee went on a late 11-2 run to pull to 86-84 when T.J Ford
hit one of two free throws with 37 seconds to play. But Bobby
Simmons missed a 25-footer with 3 seconds left and Houston got the

The Bucks were playing without leading scorer Michael Redd, who
missed the game with back spasms. Redd, averaging 25.3 points per
game, is day to day. Maurice Williams missed his third straight
game with a sprained left ankle.

"I really liked the way we competed in the second half," Bucks
coach Terry Stotts said. "With Michael and Mo out, I was really
proud of the way our team competed."

Simmons hit a career-high five 3-pointers and led the Bucks with
26 points, matching his season high.

"I didn't even realize it," Simmons said. "It was just in the
flow of the game and our guys were looking for me.

"I thought the last one was going in, but you make some and
others you don't. If it goes in, we win the game."

Houston opened the game by scoring the first six points, but
Milwaukee then went on a 19-2 run. The Bucks finished the first
quarter leading 27-15 as Jiri Welsch, who replaced Redd in the
starting lineup, and Simmons each had seven points.

Led by rookie Chuck Hayes' eight points and seven from Yao, the
Rockets went on an 18-2 run to start the second quarter for a 33-29
lead with 6:42 to play in the half.

After scoring only two points in the first quarter, Yao finished
the half with 13, including an improbable no-look layup he flipped
up under the basket as he fell backward to the floor.

Game notes
Rockets forward Stromile Swift was placed on the inactive
list for the game after arriving late for the team's morning
shootaround. ... Houston is only 5-15 at home and had lost nine of
its previous 10 at Toyota Center. ... Milwaukee hit only 3-of-16
from the field in the second quarter. The three baskets were a
Bucks' season low for a second quarter. Their previous low was four
against Denver on Nov. 4. ... Simmons shot 5-of-9 on 3s.