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T-Mac nets 34, has 9 assists to lead Rockets

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Having seen the best the Atlantic Division
has to offer in a three-day stretch, Tracy McGrady was left
unimpressed.

McGrady outperformed the NBA's leading scorer, Allen Iverson,
and the Houston Rockets knocked the Philadelphia 76ers out of first
place in the Atlantic Division with a 118-95 victory Wednesday
night.

McGrady made five 3-pointers and had 34 points and nine assists
for the Rockets, who emerged from their games against Boston and
Philadelphia with a pair of victories.

"You know, the East is crazy. You've got teams like five games
under .500 and they're leading their division. That's crazy,"
McGrady said. "The East, I played there, and it is a crazy
conference. The West, you're under .500 like that and you have no
chance, no chance absolutely, of getting to the playoffs."

McGrady was a consistent threat on offense throughout each of
the four quarters, while Iverson -- leading the NBA with an average
of 29.0 points -- had 15 points of his 28 points in the first
quarter but just two points in the second quarter and five in the
third.

Those middle two quarters were when the Rockets took control,
opening a lead as large as 20 points. Philadelphia never made a run
in the second half in having its four-game home winning streak
snapped.

Combined with Boston's victory over New Jersey, the 76ers fell a
half-game behind the Celtics in the division standings.

"We have what we have," Sixers coach Jim O'Brien said. "There
are some teams that are just flat-out better than we are. Tonight,
these guys were just flat-out better than we were."

Juwan Howard added 14 points and 13 rebounds, Scott Padgett had
13, Jon Barry made four 3-pointers and scored 12 points, and Yao
Ming also scored 12.

The Rockets shot 54 percent overall and 56 percent from 3-point
range while producing their second-highest point total of the
season, surpassed only by the 124 they scored against Dallas on
Jan. 12.

"It was unbelievable passing," Barry said. "Thirty-five
assists on 41 baskets is a tremendous number."

Iverson had 10 assists, and Samuel Dalembert had 16 points for
the Sixers.

In the game's first 12 minutes, it appeared as though Iverson
and McGrady would be competing in a scoring duel for the rest of
the evening. Iverson had 15 points on 6-for-8 shooting, while
McGrady went 2-for-3 from 3-point range and had 13 points.

From that point on, however, only McGrady kept up the pace.

He added eight points in the second quarter as the Rockets
outscored the Sixers by 10 points to open a 63-55 halftime lead,
and he opened the second half with a 3-pointer. McGrady also scored
Houston's final four points of the period, ending the quarter with
30 points as Houston led 88-71.

"He's 6-8 and he can elevate over everyone and make incredible
shots. Everyone needs someone like him," Houston coach Jeff Van
Gundy said.

The Rockets eventually led by as many as 25 in the fourth
quarter.

Game notes
Sixers F Kyle Korver went 0-for-3 from 3-point range,
ending his streak of 22 games with at least one 3. ... The Rockets
have reached 100 points 10 times in their last 25 games after doing
it only twice in their first 24 games. ... Houston swept the season
series. ... Houston G Rod Strickland missed his only shot, dropping
his shooting percentage to .091 (2-for-22).