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Minnesota at Houston

McGrady gets hurt, but Rockets win behind Yao's 25

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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HOUSTON -- Last season, when Tracy McGrady or Yao Ming were hurt, the Houston Rockets usually collapsed. This season, they've got the supporting cast to win those games.

Yao scored 25 points, Shane Battier hit a pair of key 3-pointers and added 17, and the Rockets beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 82-75 on Tuesday night.

Rafer Alston also hit a late 3-pointer and scored 13 points as the Rockets won their fourth straight game despite an injury to McGrady.

The six-time All-Star bruised his left hip in a first-half collision and seemed affected the rest of the game, scoring only eight points on 4-of-14 shooting. He also had seven assists.

"Whatever it was, it was a painful hit," McGrady said. "It was tough for me to breathe, every step that I took."

The Timberwolves trailed most of the game, but tied it at 68 on Troy Hudson's 3-pointer with 4:53 left. McGrady said his injury threw off his shooting, so Battier stepped up to make the clutch shots down the stretch.

Battier swished an off-balance 3-pointer with 3:39 left to put Houston up 71-68, then made another one 40 seconds later to help the Rockets avoid their recent trend of fourth-quarter meltdowns.

"Injuries are part of the game," Battier said. "What we have to do a better job of is, when he goes out of the game, not to let up. We need to be strong and say, 'OK, guys, we've got some pretty good players. Let's keep it up."'

Alston, who missed eight of his first 10 shots, made a steal after Battier's second 3-pointer, then finished the resulting possession with a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put Houston up 77-70.

"That's what I thought about all summer," said Alston, "to play good just in case Yao or Tracy aren't playing at their best, or are out. We have to be a better team in those cases."

Kevin Garnett had 25 points and 11 rebounds for Minnesota, his league-leading 12th double-double. Randy Foye added 11.

The Timberwolves have fallen into the exact opposite pattern as the Rockets -- they trail early, then play their best in the fourth quarter. On Monday night, they trailed by 15 entering the fourth quarter in Dallas, then mounted a 17-2 run to tie the game before losing 93-87.

This time, the Timberwolves shut down Yao and McGrady late, but were beaten by the Rockets they didn't count on to make big shots.

"In the fourth quarter, we did what you want to do with your defense," Garnett said. "We made them go from their first option to their third and fourth options. But then when they went to their fourth, Battier hit those big shots. If he doesn't make those, we're still in the game."

Houston snapped a four-game losing streak to the Timberwolves at home and won for the ninth time in 11 games.

The Timberwolves committed 20 turnovers and were outrebounded 40-37.

The Rockets play in Phoenix on Wednesday and McGrady isn't sure he'll be able to play.

He had four assists in the first quarter, then was hit in the ribs by Mike James and went to the bench with 3:53 left.

As the second quarter began, McGrady gingerly walked behind the bench and held his side as trainer Keith Jones watched. But the Rockets maintained a slim lead without him, taking a 26-21 lead after Luther Head's 3-pointer.

McGrady returned with 8:46 left in the half and promptly hit a jumper from the free throw line. But he missed two more jumpers -- part of a 1-for-8 start -- and bent over during play stoppages.

McGrady went to the bench again with 4:25 left in the first half and held his left hip as he walked to the locker room with Jones.

Without McGrady, Yao carried the Rockets to a 36-31 halftime lead, scoring 12 points and grabbing six rebounds in the first half.

Garnett scored 12 in the first half, but none of his teammates had more than four.

McGrady started the second half, missed a jumper, then threw an errant pass that James, a former Rocket, converted into a layup.

The Timberwolves pulled to a 39-all tie before Yao scored twice to rebuild a four-point Houston lead. Yao was 7-for-10 from the field at that point, while the rest of the Rockets were 10-for-44.

Houston led 62-56 when McGrady returned with 9:17 remaining. McGrady hit a hanging mid-range jumper two minutes later to put the Rockets up 64-58, but Hudson's second 3-pointer in three minutes tied it.

Battier answered with consecutive 3-pointers from the corner and Alston added a 3-pointer with 2:16 left as the Rockets rediscovered their shooting touch just in time.

Notes

  • Rockets F Chuck Hayes tied a season high with 11 rebounds and guarded Garnett most of the game.
  • Both teams mustered season-low point totals in the first half.
  • Garnett reached double figures for the 336th consecutive game, the ninth-longest streak in history. He's two games away from tying his own record (338), set between October 1997 and February 2002.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Yao Ming is accustomed to playing above the rim. He finishes with 10 boards. (Getty Images)
Yao Ming is accustomed to playing above the rim. He finishes with 10 boards. (Getty Images)

Scoreboard
Minnesota (6-7) 1714162875
Houston (9-4) «2115182882
MIN:K. Garnett 25 Pts
MIN:K. Garnett 11 Reb
MIN:R. Davis 5 Ast
HOU:Y. Ming 25 Pts
HOU:C. Hayes 11 Reb
HOU:T. McGrady 7 Ast
Minnesota
K. Garnett, PF409-155-5113025
R. Davis, SG333-81-14527
M. Blount, C263-80-04026
T. Hassell, SF251-31-23123
M. James, PG242-70-04204
R. Foye, PG245-100-012411
M. Jaric, PG231-30-03213
C. Smith, PF213-42-23108
T. Hudson, PG173-60-02218
M. Madsen, C80-10-02030
B. Wright, SGDid Not Play
E. Griffin, PFDid Not Play
J. Reed, SFDid Not Play
R. McCants, SGDid Not Play
Totals 30-659-1037181575
 46.2%90.0% 
Houston
R. Alston, PG394-153-437113
Y. Ming, C3911-153-3103225
S. Battier, SF376-110-023117
T. McGrady, SG334-140-02708
C. Hayes, PF292-70-011134
L. Head, SG253-120-05029
J. Howard, PF230-32-27242
V. Spanoulis, PG110-24-40004
D. Mutombo, C40-00-00000
B. Sura, PGDid Not Play
B. Wells, SGDid Not Play
K. Snyder, SFDid Not Play
S. Padgett, PFDid Not Play
J. Lucas, PGDid Not Play
S. Novak, PFDid Not Play
Totals 30-7912-1340231382
 38.0%92.3% 
Other Games
Atl 95 Final
Wash 96
Char 96 Final
NJ 92
Tor 94 Final
NO 77
NY 85 Final
Chi 102
Mem 108 Final
Den 96
Ind 105 Final
Port 97
LAC 80 Final
Sac 93
Mil 109 Final
LAL 105