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Rockets' All-Star duo leads Houston past Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Tracy McGrady didn't even need a decent view of
the basket to hit a jump shot. Yao Ming scored three times before
fans had shuffled back to their seats after halftime.

"If we are both making shots, then it's miserable for the other
team," McGrady said.

Miserable, indeed -- to the tune of a 23-point lead late in the
third quarter.

But after teaming up to lead a big spurt after halftime, McGrady
and Yao were kept under control down the stretch and the Houston
Rockets had to squeak by with a 97-93 victory over the Milwaukee
Bucks on Wednesday.

McGrady scored 32 and Yao added 23 for the Rockets, and the two
combined for all of the points in Houston's 17-7 run at the
beginning of the third quarter.

But after some defensive substitutions by Milwaukee, both
Rockets stars went cold late in the fourth quarter and the Bucks
were able to knock their lead down to single digits.

"They showed signs of folding," McGrady said. "Then they made
some subs, and guys came in there and started playing hard and
started making shots. We gave them a little bit of confidence there
down the stretch. They made it tough for us for a little bit."

Michael Redd scored 34 for Milwaukee, hitting the 30-point mark
for the third time in five games. Redd and guard Charlie Bell
helped the Bucks make a fourth-quarter comeback attempt that
ultimately fell short.

"We wound up losing, but we pulled off a great effort," Redd
said.

Yao hit three field goals before the Bucks scored a point in the
second half, then McGrady answered a hook shot by the Bucks'
Charlie Villanueva with a 3-pointer.

"We knew Tracy was going to end up making shots," Rockets
guard Luther Head said. "We knew it was coming, and he showed it.
He was incredible. Yao was just being Yao, doing what he does every
night. Give the big fella the ball."

Later in the quarter, McGrady spun around and hit a jump shot --
releasing the ball before he had fully twisted to face the basket --
to put the Rockets ahead 69-50 with 4:01 remaining.

The 6-foot-3 Bell guarded the 6-8 McGrady, a height advantage
that Bell said allowed McGrady to get good shots even with a hand
in his face.

"I look over at the bench and say, 'What else can I do?" Bell
said.

On the Rockets' next possession, McGrady came back and hit
another jumper. The Rockets led by 23 late in the third quarter and
had a 76-58 lead to begin the fourth quarter.

Bucks fans turned their attention to a hometown star -- chanting
to Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy to put rookie Steve Novak, a former
Marquette player, in the game.

But McGrady and Yao went cold after Bucks coach Terry Stotts
made some defensive substitutions, putting backup center Brian
Skinner on Yao instead of starter Andrew Bogut.

"We needed to get back in the game defensively, and I thought
that Brian was a good matchup for us," Stotts said.

Milwaukee closed within 10 on a 3-pointer by Bell, and
Milwaukee's Dan Gadzuric added a layup, cutting the Rockets' lead
to 82-74 with 7:52 remaining.

Game notes
Bucks fans chanted "Put in Novak!" at the end of the
game, but Van Gundy didn't oblige. Novak, who had 25 friends and
family members in the crowd, hasn't played in Houston's last two
games. ... 40-year-old Houston center Dikembe Mutombo had 10
points, including eight in the first half, and played a season-high
13 minutes. "That was good. We needed that," Mutumbo said. "I
can shoot those jumpers. I shoot it in practice. It's something
that we have been working on, and today it was just my time." ...
Villanueva, who has averaged a double-double in points and rebounds
through the Bucks' first four games, was held to eight points on
3-for-8 shooting. ... Wednesday's attendance was 16,102. ...
Houston outrebounded Milwaukee 43-33, enjoying a double-digit
rebounding edge for their third straight game.

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