But even after a tough 93-89 win over the struggling New York
Knicks on Sunday, the Rockets know they still need to improve.
McGrady scored 23 points and David Wesley added 19, including
several key free throws late, as Houston won its third straight
"We are doing well," Yao said. "But we must do more. We are
always looking forward."
Yao, in his fourth game back since missing 21 after toe surgery,
looked to have shaken off any lingering effects of the injury with
a strong start and scored 15 points. Houston's record is 12-6 when
he and McGrady play. McGrady had missed five games with back
With both its stars healthy, Houston has its longest winning
streak since it captured five in a row from Dec. 6-15.
"It's different with both those guys around," Wesley said.
"It makes it easier on the rest of us.
"We did enough, but were not where we want to be."
The Knicks had a chance to tie with 6.9 seconds left, but a
3-point attempt by Jalen Rose was partially blocked by Stromile
Swift and fell short. Wesley, who made four free throws in the last
23 seconds, hit his final one with 3 seconds remaining to ensure
"I wanted that one," Rose said. "I wanted that one very bad
and I'd have liked to see what had happened had he not blocked my
Rose scored 16 points and had 11 assists in his debut with the
Knicks after being traded from Toronto on Friday, and received a
warm reception from the crowd. Rose and a first-round draft pick
went to the Knicks for Antonio Davis. Rose started to make it the
29th different starting lineup the Knicks have used this season.
Knicks scoring leader Stephon Marbury missed his second straight
game with an injured left shoulder. He first injured his shoulder
in a loss to Minnesota on Jan. 16 and missed three games with the
injury last month.
This is the fourth time this season the Knicks have had a losing
streak of five games or longer. The only good news Sunday was that
they kept the score close after losing their last four by an
average of 20 points, including a 130-97 loss to the Los Angeles
Lakers on Tuesday.
"I don't get caught up with wins and losses," Knicks coach
Larry Brown said. "I get caught up with guys trying to do the
right thing, respecting their teammates, and playing with effort.
It's disappointing to lose and not be rewarded for that as a team.
But from my perspective it's a big step forward."
McGrady was frustrated that the Rockets allowed the Knicks to
threaten late, after leading by seven with under a minute to go.
"We kind of let our guard down a little bit," he said. "We
could have put them away early but we made some key mistakes on the
defensive end. When we executed on both ends, there was no question
that we were the better team."
McGrady scored just four points in the first half, but struck in
the third quarter. The Rockets were down 49-48 before McGrady and
Wesley keyed a 16-3 run to take a 64-52 lead midway through the
But the Knicks, led by Channing Frye, scored nine straight
points to cut the lead to 66-63. McGrady stretched Houston's lead
back to six with a 3-pointer, but Rose answered with a 3 as the
Yao scored eight of the Rockets' first 10 points and had two big
blocks early in the first quarter. He had all of his 15 points by
"There's going to be some bumps in the road certainly,"
Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "You don't sit out that long in
this competitive of a league and make it back the you were playing
before. You saw tonight he started out great and then he couldn't
Houston led by as many as nine in the second quarter before the
Knicks rallied to cut the lead to 45-42 by halftime.
New York's Jerome James scored six points after missing the
last five games with a strained neck. ... Knicks fixture Spike Lee
appeared to have another sport on his mind on Super Bowl Sunday as
he wore a jersey of Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward at the
game. ... Houston's Rafer Alston scored five points and had seven
assists in a return to his hometown.