McGrady scored a season-high 44 points, topping 30 points for
the fourth consecutive game, and the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz
100-86 for their fifth straight victory.
McGrady hit 14 of 31 shots and went 13-for-16 from the
free-throw line, reaching 40 points for the 39th time in his
Tracy McGrady scored a game-high 44 points as the Rockets defeated the Jazz 100-86. Houston is 5-1 since Yao Ming's injury, with McGrady averaging 30 points per game over that span. In the 20 games that he played alongside Yao this season, McGrady averaged 19.2 points per game.
Mutombo grabbed a season-best 19 rebounds after a quick
motivational speech before the game, reminding the Rockets of their
season-opening 107-97 loss in Utah.
"I told them don't expect anything to be easy tonight,"
Mutombo said. "This team beat us so well in Utah. Somehow, we had
to find something to give back to them."
McGrady was that "something" from the start, scoring 11 points
during the Rockets' 15-3 run to open the game. He swished two
3-pointers in the first 2 minutes, then blew by Derek Fisher for an
easy layup. McGrady ended the burst with a 3-pointer from the wing,
confidently nodding as he trotted down the court.
"I tried to set the tone right away," McGrady said. "I wanted
to let my teammates know that this is how it's going to be until
the final buzzer ends it."
McGrady fell four points shy of his high game in three seasons
with Houston, set against Dallas in December 2004. McGrady's career
high is 62 points, accomplished in his final season with Orlando.
He missed seven games in December with back spasms, but has
looked as healthy as ever in Houston's past four games, averaging
"If I've got it rolling like that and my guys are knocking down
shots, we can beat the best of them in this league," McGrady said.
Mutombo had a double-digit rebound total for the fifth straight
game. The 40-year-old center has ably filled in for the injured Yao
Ming, out at least six weeks with a broken right leg. The Rockets
are 5-1 without Yao.
Carlos Boozer had 15 points and 17 rebounds and Deron Williams
scored 19 points for Utah, which never recovered from Houston's
"They took us on early and put us out of the game," Utah coach
Jerry Sloan said.
The Jazz missed six of their first seven shots before Fisher's
3-pointer with 8:15 left in the first quarter. Utah missed 17 of
its first 24 shots.
"They did a terrific job in taking us out of our offense and
all we took were outside shots," Sloan said. "If you don't run
your offense, then you had better hit all your shots, and we
McGrady scored 17 points in the first, but missed consecutive
off-balance shots before going to the bench for a rest. The Jazz
trailed 29-19 after the opening quarter.
Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy used mostly reserves for the first
5 minutes of the second quarter, but the Jazz could only get within
nine. McGrady returned with 6:46 left in the half and, after Rafer
Alston hit a 3-pointer, McGrady scored again to put Houston up
McGrady missed a 3-pointer, but Mutombo grabbed the offensive
rebound, then found McGrady for another driving layup that put the
Rockets up 48-32.
Utah finished the half with a 9-1 run, capped by Williams'
banked-in 3-pointer from 33 feet at the buzzer that cut Houston's
lead to 54-45. McGrady had 27 points at the break.
Fisher went 1-for-6 in the first half and rookie Ronnie Brewer
started the second half in his place. Brewer promptly converted a
three-point play to draw the Jazz within six.
The Rockets answered with a 14-3 run that McGrady finished with
a smooth turnaround over Brewer. The Rockets' lead reached 73-53
before Brewer's second three-point play triggered a 15-4 Utah
Houston rebuilt a 12-point lead by the end of the third quarter
and stayed comfortably ahead as McGrady kept pouring in points. He
swished a baseline fadeaway over Matt Harpring at the 6-minute mark
to put Houston up 95-81, then drained another shot from the same
side over Andrei Kirilenko to extend it to 98-81.
Appropriately, McGrady had the ball as the buzzer sounded and
gently laid it on the court as the final seconds ticked off.
Boozer finished two rebounds shy of his season high, set
against Houston in the opener. Boozer has 25 double-doubles this
season. ... Rockets reserve Kirk Snyder was in uniform, but did not
play. Snyder has been out since breaking his right hand against New
York on Nov. 21. He practiced with a bandage on his hand Friday and
Van Gundy said Snyder wasn't ready to play.