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Tracy McGrady star takes leave from team after Rockets hand Nets 9th straight loss

Tracy McGrady star takes leave from team after Rockets hand Nets 9th straight loss

Tracy McGrady #1 of the Houston Rockets looks on from the bench. (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)—While Tracy McGrady’s role with the team remained in question, the Houston Rockets kept right on rolling without him.

Reserve Carl Landry scored 26 points to lead the Rockets to a 98-93 victory Saturday night over New Jersey, sending the Nets to their ninth straight loss.

The win capped a tumultuous day for the Rockets in which McGrady, a two-time NBA scoring champion, left the team to return to Houston. He will not play Sunday when the Rockets travel to Cleveland.

McGrady has been unhappy with his diminished role. He has appeared in six games this season following microfracture surgery on the left knee in February, averaging only 3.2 points a game in the comeback.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said the team would wait until it returned to Houston after the weekend back-to-back games to consider any changes to the rotation.

The Rockets are a resilient bunch, having overcome the major injuries to McGrady and Yao Ming(notes), who underwent left foot surgery that has sidelined him all season.

“It is not about height or size,” Landry said. “It’s about heart, courage and toughness.”

The Rockets needed a determined effort to hold off the Nets, who hung tough before falling to 2-28.

“It wasn’t pretty but we’ll take the win,” Rockets coach Rick Adelman said. “The Nets are professionals, they have really good players. We had the lead to pull away and we just didn’t do it.”

Houston needed some last-minute clutch baskets—and some Net misses—to pull out the win.

Aaron Brooks(notes) made a tiebreaking layup with 37 seconds left and scored 17 points, as did Luis Scola(notes). Trevor Ariza(notes) added 13 points and 11 rebounds as the Rockets won for the fourth time in five games.

Houston beat New Jersey for the seventh straight time.

Devin Harris(notes) led the Nets with 19 points, while Yi Jianlian(notes) and Brook Lopez(notes) each had 17.

“You try to learn a lesson from these close ones,” Harris said. “We’re just a few shots away. It was still a meaningful game with 2 minutes to go. We’ve got to be proud of the way guys keep fighting.”

The Rockets led 70-69 after three quarters as the Nets, who had trailed by as many as 11, hung in gamely, getting a boost from rookie Terrence Williams(notes).

Yi made the first basket of the final period, giving the Nets their first lead since the game’s opening basket when he banked a shot off the glass for a one-point advantage.

That set the stage for a back-and-fourth final quarter until Landry took charge, putting Houston up by two on a pair of free throws followed by a driving dunk.

The Nets countered with consecutive baskets by Lopez to cut the Rockets’ lead to 86-85. Both teams missed layups before Ariza hit a jumper to give Houston a three-point margin.

Keyon Dooling(notes) made a 3-pointer with 1:38 to even the score at 91. After Landry turned the ball over, the Nets could not grab the lead when Yi missed a wide-open jumper. Brooks then made his driving layup, giving the Rockets a 93-91 edge.

NOTES: Nets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe is 2-10 since also becoming coach after Lawrence Frank was fired. … The Rockets avoided their second two-game losing streak. … Yi was whistled for a technical foul for hanging on the rim with 2:26 remaining. … Lopez tallied his 17th double-double, pulling down 11 rebounds. He also had a season-high three steals. … Houston has won seven in a row in New Jersey. They last lost here on March 31, 2003. … Landry finished one point shy of his career high.


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