Final

Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 1/20

Game 1: Thursday, January 20th
Rockets108Final
Magic99
Game 2: Monday, January 24th
Magic78Final
Rockets89

Magic 78

(22-18, 8-13 away)

Rockets 89

(23-19, 14-9 home)

Coverage: FSSW

7:30 PM ET, January 24, 2005

Toyota Center, Houston, TX

1 2 3 4 T
ORL 15 12 24 2778
HOU 24 24 19 2289

Top Performers

Orlando: S. Francis 23 Pts, 10 Reb, 7 Ast

Houston: Y. Ming 22 Pts, 10 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

Barry scores season-high 19 off bench

HOUSTON (AP) -- The Houston Rockets didn't even need Tracy McGrady.

Yao Ming had 22 points and 10 rebounds, Jon Barry scored 19 and Houston beat the Orlando Magic 89-78 on Monday night despite playing without its leading scorer.

"I think we have enough to win, regardless of who plays," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "Obviously, you never want to miss someone of Tracy's magnitude ... but you can overcome anybody's loss in a short period of time."

The Rockets won their third straight and completed a two-game season sweep of the Magic in five days, proving that -- at least for now -- they got the better of the summer blockbuster trade that fetched them McGrady, Juwan Howard and two other players.

After stumbling to a disappointing 9-12 start, the Rockets have made significant strides following two smaller trades in December for Barry and David Wesley. Houston is now a season-best four games over .500 (23-19).

"We're playing well and hopefully we can keep it rolling," guard Bob Sura said. "We've got a deep team, and obviously with Tracy not being here tonight we still feel like we can play anybody even without our best player."

McGrady, who scored 27 points in a win at Orlando on Thursday, wasn't around for the rematch because of a medical emergency in his family. Team officials weren't sure where he was going or how long he would be away.

Barry picked up the scoring slack with a season-high point total off the bench, Sura added 15 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, and Wesley and Howard each scored 10 points.

Playing in Houston for the first time since the trade, Magic guard Steve Francis had a bittersweet homecoming.

He received a brief standing ovation during pregame introductions, but those cheers turned to a smattering of boos as the game went along.

Francis had 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists but also committed seven turnovers -- basically the same kind of uneven performance that made him a fan favorite but caused him problems in Van Gundy's methodical offense.

The Rockets "are effective in the way they play," Francis said. "People may not like it, but people who don't like it might get traded -- like me."

But Francis struggled even in the Magic's frenetic, up-and-down offense Monday night, shooting just 10-of-28 (36 percent) from the floor.

"That wasn't a typical Steve Francis performance," Magic coach Johnny Davis said. "He played hard but he didn't play well. He missed a lot of shots that he usually makes."

Kelvin Cato, also sent to Orlando in the trade, had 11 points and six rebounds. Rookie guard Jameer Nelson added 12 points.

Grant Hill, who missed the Magic's win over Philadelphia on Saturday with a bruised right wrist, scored 10 points.

The Rockets didn't miss a beat without McGrady, getting five players to score in double figures and playing Van Gundy-style stingy defense.

"You have to be ready for that situation," Yao said. "There's always the chance somebody's not going to be able to play."

Houston took an early lead and held the Magic to a franchise-low 27 points in the first half, aided greatly by Francis' terrible start -- two points on 1-for-8 shooting and three turnovers.

The Rockets increased their lead to 21 early in the third quarter and the Magic appeared headed for another blowout loss.

Then Francis finally got it going.

He made back-to-back jumpers and Nelson scored on a layup to bring Orlando to 72-65 midway through the fourth quarter. But Sura answered with eight points down the stretch and Francis committed three costly turnovers to seal the win for the Rockets.

At the end, Yao and Francis embraced at midcourt and chatted for a few seconds. Francis then skipped off into the locker room while the Rockets celebrated the win.

"It definitely felt different," Francis said. "I heard the people cheering and I'm grateful for that."

Game notes


Houston has won six straight against Orlando, the longest winning streak by any franchise against the Magic. ... Houston won its first game without McGrady this season. The Rockets lost two games in November when McGrady sat out with nagging groin and hip injuries. ... Former President George Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush were at the game. ... Hall of Fame guard Calvin Murphy also made a rare appearance.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
ORL
HOU
Points 78 89
FGM-FGA 33-82 (.402) 32-78 (.410)
3PM-3PA 1-8 (.125) 3-14 (.214)
FTM-FTA 11-16 (.688) 22-28 (.786)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-47 7-47
Assists 13 22
Turnovers 17 12
Steals 6 9
Blocks 3 2
Fast Break Points 12 10
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (0/0) 19 (0/0)
Largest Lead 3 21

Top Performers

Orlando
Houston
Steve Francis Francis
Points: 23
Reb: 10
Ast: 7
Stl: 0
Blk: 0
Yao Ming Ming
Points: 22
Reb: 10
Ast: 1
Stl: 1
Blk: 2