McGrady paces Rockets in first game back from injury

CHICAGO (AP) -- Maybe it was no coincidence that the Houston
Rockets won Friday night. Tracy McGrady came back and there went
the losing streak.

McGrady scored 35 points, including the tying shot at the end of
regulation and the go-ahead 3-pointer in the second overtime, as
Houston beat the Chicago Bulls 109-108 to stop a seven-game slide.

After missing five games with back spasms, McGrady hit a 3 with
42 seconds left in the second overtime to break a 106-all tie.

"I just felt real comfortable, despite being out for awhile,"
McGrady said. "When I caught my second wind toward the end of the
game, I was fine. I just felt like any defender that was guarding
me was pretty much at my mercy."

Two nights after New York's Antonio Davis climbed into the
stands at the United Center, fearing for his wife's safety, the
drama stayed on the court and there were no apparent

One of the fans involved in Wednesday's confrontation,
22-year-old Michael Axelrod, said he is considering legal action
but will drop it if Davis and his wife apologize. The Davises
responded in separate interviews Friday by saying they never
mentioned his name and that there will be no apology.

This time, all the action was on the court.

And in the end, it was McGrady supplying the theatrics for the
Rockets (13-25) with seven points in each of the overtime periods.

"He still does some things that amaze me," said Juwan Howard --
who wasn't bad himself.

Howard scored a season-high 30 points on 15 of 29 shooting,
David Wesley added 17 points, and Rafer Alston had 12 assists. But
this was McGrady's night.

He's averaging 25.6 points, but perhaps this statistic best sums
up his value: 0-13. That's Houston's record without McGrady.

"He draws so much attention," Alston said. "He doesn't have a
problem sharing the basketball, but he also understands he can get
his shot anytime. Tonight, he could shoot over anyone who was
guarding him. He's such a key for us.

"It is that much of a difference."

Luol Deng led the Bulls (16-23) with 19 points. Ben Gordon
scored 18, two nights after hitting the winning jumper and scoring
a season-high 32 in the overtime victory over New York.

Deng's 3-pointer tied it at 106 with 1:21 left in the second
overtime, but McGrady answered with the go-ahead 3. Darius Songaila
hit a jumper to make it a one-point game, and the Bulls had a
chance to win it in the closing seconds, after McGrady missed a 3.

The Bulls tried to run a pick-and-roll, but it broke down when
Hinrich slipped. He kept his dribble, drove the lane but threw up
an airball as he fell to the floor.

"(Alston) bodied me up, and I just didn't make the shot,"
Hinrich said.

The Bulls left the court with their 12th loss in 16 games,
losing again after giving up a lead.

"We had way too many breakdowns," coach Scott Skiles said.
"Mental breakdowns and physical breakdowns."

With the score tied at 88, Deng hit a jumper near the top of the
key after a timeout to give his team the lead with 46 seconds
remaining in regulation. McGrady then got called for an offensive
foul 13 seconds later.

The Rockets had one last chance at the end of regulation.
McGrady caught the inbound pass and took a few dribbles to his left
and missed a jumper. Deng failed to block him out, and McGrady
picked up the loose ball along the baseline and tied it at 90 with
2.1 seconds left.

"We made him miss twice in critical moments," Skiles said.
"We just leaked out and they came right back and got perimeter
rebounds on us. You can't do that."

McGrady started the first overtime with a 3, and his jumper gave
the Rockets a 100-98 lead with 15 seconds left in that period.

But the Bulls tied it at 100 on a pick-and-roll, with Hinrich
finding Songaila for a two-handed jam. McGrady missed a 3, sending
it to double-overtime.

The Rockets planned to limit his minutes, but he wound up
playing 40.

"I would have griped about (being taken out) because we were
playing so well," McGrady said. "We wanted to win this game. I
was really going to talk (coach Jeff Van Gundy) into leaving me out
there, even though they wanted to keep my minutes down."

Game notes
Bulls F Tyson Chandler left the game early in the second
quarter after dislocating his left ring finger Saturday at Indiana.
... The Bulls assigned G Eddie Basden to the Tulsa 66ers in the
NBA's Development League Friday. He has appeared in 15 games this
season, averaging 2.2 points and 1.5 rebounds. ... With his former
Illinois teammates watching, Houston rookie Luther Head scored
seven points.