Tracy McGrady chips in with 27 points to help the Houston Rockets ease to victory against the Phoenix Suns.
McGrady sinks the Suns
The Houston Rockets capitalised on a scoring spree from Tracy McGrady in the third-quarter to ease away from the Phoenix Suns and claim a 94-82 victory on Wednesday night. The All-Star shooting guard had been struggling for form before the game, but he found his range at the ideal time after the interval.
He converted three three-pointers as Houston closed the third quarter with an 18-6 run to take a 74-55 advantage into the final quarter. McGrady finished the contest with a game-high 27 points, 15 of them coming in the decisive third quarter. "I was just aggressive, they looked for me and it kept coming back to me," McGrady said. "We looked like a totally different team, we came out and executed."
McGrady entered the game shooting just one-for-16 from the field over his previous two games, but his upturn in form helped the Rockets improve their record to five wins and three losses. The only negative of the night for the winners came shortly before the end of the third quarter, when a skirmish between the teams resulted in the ejection of the Rockets guard Rafer Alston. Phoenix's Matt Barnes was also ejected and three additional technical fouls were issued.
"It had no effect on us. You have to keep your poise in those situations," McGrady said. Shaquille O'Neal led the Suns with 18 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks, fairing well against fellow big man Yao Ming. During the third quarter of the game O'Neal surpassed Hall of Famer John Havlicek for 10th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list and now has 26,402 points for his career. Ming, the Rockets 7ft 6in Chinese centre, added 17 points for a Houston team that had four players posting double-figure totals.
Leandro Barbosa scored 18 for the Suns, who shot just 37 per cent on the night. Houston's new acquisition Ron Artest continued to struggle though, finishing with just four points. Artest was traded from the Sacramento Kings to the Rockets during the offseason to form a formidable trio with Ming and McGrady. However, the forward has yet to find his offensive game and came into the contest shooting just 33 per cent from the field.