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McGrady scores 36, Houston hammers Seattle at home

HOUSTON (AP) -- Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady are finally healthy
and the Houston Rockets are starting to resemble the team they were
expected to be this season.

McGrady scored 36 points and Yao added 24 points and 14 rebounds
to lead the Rockets to a 100-77 win over the Seattle SuperSonics on
Friday night.

"We had great intensity from the start of the game," McGrady
said. "If we consistently do that, we'll be all right."

McGrady topped 30 points for the fifth time since missing five
games with back spasms. Yao went 9-for-19 and blocked two shots in
his third game since a 21-game layoff following toe surgery.

The Rockets improved to 11-6 when their All-Star duo plays
together.

"It starts always with our two best guys and their energy
level," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "McGrady obviously was
very efficient tonight. Yao is a long way away from being in the
type of shape he was in prior to his injury. But that he is in as
good of shape as he is in is a direct result of his incredible
dedication."

McGrady also grabbed nine rebounds as the Rockets improved to
6-15 at home and won back-to-back games at the Toyota Center for
the first time this season. Houston beat Milwaukee 86-84 on
Wednesday.

Van Gundy ranked Friday's performance as the Rockets' best at
home all season.

"It's our first home game that I can say we played well from
start to finish," he said. "Hopefully, that's the start of
something."

Ray Allen scored 23 points and Rashard Lewis added 21 for
Seattle, which committed 20 turnovers and got outrebounded 50-40.

"It was a tough night," said Seattle coach Bob Hill. "We
stunk it up."

The game opened a four-game road trip for Seattle, which
continues on Saturday in Dallas.

"It's disappointing to start this road trip this way,
especially to a team we thought we could beat," Lewis said. "We
only have four games on this trip and I thought we gave this one
away."

McGrady had a quiet first quarter, going 3-for-7 for seven
points. He sat out the first five minutes of the second, then
scored seven points during an 11-4 run that gave Houston a 46-39
lead.

McGrady finished with 16 points in the first half, helping the
Rockets take a 48-43 lead. Houston coughed up three turnovers early
in the third quarter and the Sonics pulled within 50-49.

McGrady then scored nine straight points on a layup, two
mid-range jumpers and a 3-pointer from the wing.

"I wanted to come out in the third quarter and really impose my
will on this game," McGrady said.

He made a bad pass that led to a Sonics' fast break, but swished
a 3-pointer from the top of the key a minute later to restore
Houston's double-digit lead.

McGrady went 4-of-7 from 3-point range.

"He got hot and when his shots start to fall, he's not going to
miss many," Lewis said of McGrady.

Rookie Luther Head beat the third-quarter buzzer with a running
30-footer to give the Rockets a 73-57 lead heading to the fourth.

McGrady made sure it lasted. He swished a 3-pointer from the top
of the key 15 seconds into the quarter and sank another one with
10:35 left. He confidently nodded as he trotted down the court
after the second basket, which put the Rockets up 81-57.

"Defensively, we weren't that bad," Allen said, "but McGrady
started hitting some shots to take them to the next level."

Yao, meanwhile, missed seven of his first 10 shots, but finished
strong, hitting all five of his attempts in the final quarter. Yao
underwent surgery on Dec. 19 to remove an infection from his left
big toe and is apparently still not fully healed.

After the game, he dunked his left foot in a bucket of ice,
pulled it out and winced as he pulled on a sock.

"He's got a level of dedication to his profession that very few
have," Van Gundy said.

The Sonics, allowing an NBA-worst 107 points per game, gave up
100 points for the fifth straight game.

"I feel like we weren't playing hard," said Lewis, who went to
high school in Houston. "We were just kind of going through the
motions."
^Notes:@ McGrady reached 30 points for the 14th time this season and
the second time in Houston's last three home games. ... Rockets G
Jon Barry sat out for the 14th consecutive game with a right calf
strain. ... Seattle has only four home games in February. Friday's
game is the first of 10 on the road for the Sonics this month. ...
Members of the Memphis basketball team attended the game. The
third-ranked Tigers play Rice on Saturday.