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