Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 11/5

Game 1: Sunday, November 5th
Game 2: Saturday, February 3rd
Game 3: Sunday, March 25th
Game 4: Saturday, April 14th

Hornets 112


Rockets 123

(51-29, 27-13 home)

    Coverage: FSSW

    7:30 PM ET, April 14, 2007

    Toyota Center, Houston, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    NO 30 20 28 34112
    HOU 32 25 28 38123

    Top Performers

    NO: C. Paul 20 Pts, 8 Reb, 15 Ast, 1 Stl

    Hou: T. McGrady 25 Pts, 7 Reb, 10 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk

    Yao, McGrady combine for 55 points in win over Hornets

    Associated Press

    HOUSTON -- Every time the New Orleans Hornets tried to rally in the fourth quarter, Tracy McGrady had the answer.

    Now, the Houston Rockets are one win away from securing home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, while the Hornets' slim postseason hopes are in the hands of other teams.

    McGrady got 11 of his 25 in the final five minutes and Yao Ming scored 30 points to lead the Rockets to a 123-112 win over New Orleans on Saturday night.

    Elias Says
    Rafer Alston
    Tracy McGrady scored 25 points and was credited with 10 assists while Rafer Alston had 21 points and 13 assists in the Rockets' 123-112 win over the Hornets. They were the first pair of NBA teammates this season to collect 20 points and 10 assists in the same game. Elias Says

    The Hornets trailed by 12 early in the final quarter, but cut the Rockets' lead to four twice in the final 2:41. Each time, McGrady answered -- with a jumper from the top of the key and then a driving dunk and a free throw with 2:04 left.

    "I just wanted to put my will on the game," said McGrady, who also had 10 assists.

    Rafer Alston added 21 points and a season-high 13 assists for the Rockets, who have a two-game lead over Utah in the race for home-court in their first-round playoff series. The Jazz lost 126-98 to Phoenix on Saturday night.

    "You don't want to squander that opportunity," Alston said of securing home-court. "I know how important it is, because you never know. If it comes down to that last game, you would much rather it be on your court with your fans."

    McGrady has been preaching to his teammates for two weeks about improving in time for the postseason.

    "Right now, we have to be playing our best basketball," McGrady said. "I still feel like we're not getting it."

    David West matched his season high with 33 points and Chris Paul added 20 points and 15 assists for the Hornets.

    According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Hornets were eliminated from the playoffs with the loss. The Hornets would lose any head-to-head tiebreaker with the teams seeking the West's No. 8 playoff spot (the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors). The Hornets would also lose in a 3-way tiebreaker scenario with the Clippers and Warriors.

    Paul is already conceding that New Orleans' season will end this week.

    "I am very disappointed that we didn't make the playoffs," he said. "We stuck together and never gave up."

    New Orleans center Tyson Chandler missed his fifth straight game with an injured left big toe. The 7-foot-1 Chandler defended Yao well in two previous matchups this season. Without him, the Hornets struggled to stop the 7-foot-6 Yao, who hit 11 of 16 shots and went 8-for-11 from the free-throw line.

    Alston said the key on Saturday night was simply delivering the ball to Yao earlier in possessions.

    "What's been happening, sometimes, is that he's open and we don't get it to him right away," Alston said. "Then they (the defense) are able to push him out farther and that's not the shot we want him to take."

    McGrady recorded double-digit assists for the 11th time. Houston's 33 assists were a season-high.

    The Rockets hit 11 of their first 14 shots and led 27-20 after Alston's steal and breakaway layup.

    Paul had six assists in the opening quarter, but Alston's 3-pointer from the corner with 2.4 seconds left put Houston up 32-30.

    The Hornets cooled off early in the second quarter and Dikembe Mutombo's tip-in with 8:31 left in the first half started a 14-0 Houston run. Luther Head finished a fast break with a layup and hit two 3-pointers before Yao scored to stretch the Rockets' lead to 53-38.

    After hitting 13 of 19 shots in the first quarter, New Orleans missed 10 of its first 13 shots in the second.

    West scored 14 points in the third quarter, but the Rockets hit 13 of their first 19 shots after the break and led 85-78 heading to the fourth.

    Shane Battier drove for a reverse layup and Head hit another 3-pointer in the first 80 seconds of the fourth quarter to push Houston's lead to 90-78.

    The Hornets got within five on five separate occasions in the final quarter, then cut it to four twice before McGrady stepped up.

    "Those are back-breaker plays," Brown said of McGrady's clutch baskets at the end.

    Battier swished a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:37 left to finally put the Hornets away.

    Game notes

    The Rockets snapped a three-game losing streak to the Hornets and won for only the second time in the last eight meetings. ... The Rockets improved to 50-7 when they lead after three quarters. ... Wins by Golden State, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Clippers on Sunday will eliminate the Hornets from playoff contention. ... Mutombo left in the fourth quarter with a bruise above his right eye.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 112 123
    FGM-FGA 45-83 (.542) 49-84 (.583)
    3PM-3PA 5-17 (.294) 9-19 (.474)
    FTM-FTA 17-20 (.850) 16-20 (.800)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-33 8-30
    Assists 26 33
    Turnovers 14 9
    Steals 5 8
    Blocks 3 4
    Fast Break Points 8 8
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 16 (0/0) 17 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 1 15

    Top Performers

    No/oklahoma City
    Chris Paul Paul
    Points: 20
    Reb: 8
    Ast: 15
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Tracy McGrady McGrady
    Points: 25
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 10
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 1