Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 11/13

Game 1: Sunday, November 13th
Game 2: Tuesday, December 6th

Celtics 73

(7-10, 1-5 away)

Rockets 91

(5-12, 3-6 home)

    Coverage: FSSW

    7:30 PM ET, December 6, 2005

    Toyota Center, Houston, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    BOS 18 20 16 1973
    HOU 18 30 17 2691

    Top Performers

    Bos: P. Pierce 20 Pts, 3 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl

    Hou: T. McGrady 35 Pts, 7 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 Blk

    McGrady outscores Pierce 35-20 as Houston prevails

    HOUSTON (AP) -- Happy and healthy again, Tracy McGrady outplayed high-scoring Paul Pierce on Tuesday night and carried the Houston Rockets to a much-needed win over Boston.

    McGrady tied his season high with 35 points in the Rockets' 91-73 victory, only Houston's second win in its last 10 games. McGrady guarded Pierce most of the night, and Pierce went 3-for-10, although he hit 13 free throws and scored 20.

    But McGrady was clearly the better player, showing no signs of the back spasms that sidelined him for eight of Houston's first 14 games.

    "I got into a great rhythm," said McGrady, who hit 14 of 20 shots. "My legs felt good, back felt good. Just overall, physically, mentally, it was great out there."

    A discouraged Pierce said the Celtics' poor defense contributed to McGrady's big night.

    "That's the NBA," he said. "You've got to guard somebody every night. T-Mac's a great player, but you've got to guard somebody like that every night."

    McGrady also had seven rebounds and five assists. He also scored 35 in a 99-91 win over New Jersey on Nov. 11, his first game back from the injury he suffered on Nov. 4.

    McGrady admitted he returned too soon the first time and was back on the bench after four more games. On Tuesday, he felt as good as he has in a long time.

    "I felt like my old self," McGrady said, "and that's a great feeling to have."

    McGrady had 16 points in the first half, while Pierce had 11.

    McGrady said he was never caught up in the individual scoring duel, but was focused on defending Pierce.

    "Once he gets a rhythm, I don't care what kind of defense you throw at him, he's going to kill you," McGrady said. "I was just trying to make things difficult for him and mix it up a little bit. I just never let him get into a rhythm."

    The All-Star matchup became a total mismatch in the third quarter.

    Pierce shot an airball, then lost the ball to Ryan Bowen in the first two minutes. After the turnover, McGrady hit a fadeaway jumper over Pierce on the baseline.

    Pierce charged into McGrady with 8:30 left and went to the bench with his fourth foul.

    "Paul is human," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "The foul trouble got him out of the flow. He still had great effort, but the foul troubles hurt him."

    McGrady immediately sank a jumper over Justin Reed, reaching 20 points for the sixth time in eight games.

    The Rockets pushed their 10-point halftime lead to 17 as the Celtics missed seven of their first nine shots after the break.

    Boston looked better with Pierce on the bench. Delonte West sank a 3-pointer and drove past Stromile Swift for a layup during an 8-0 run that cut the Rockets' lead to 61-54.

    Houston rebuilt its edge to 11 by the fourth quarter, leading after three for the sixth time this season. The Rockets had blown two of those leads, but McGrady made sure it wouldn't happen this time.

    He scored twice in the first minute of the quarter, prompting Rivers to send Pierce to the scorers' table.

    The move didn't work.

    McGrady sank two 3-pointers over Ricky Davis and blocked Pierce on a driving layup as Houston's lead swelled to 76-61.

    "He led us and he will always lead us," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "Tonight, he led us in a very, very positive direction as far as his will to win."

    Pierce swished a 3-pointer over McGrady with 7:06 to go, but the Rockets still led by 12 and cruised from there.

    The Celtics finished 23-of-67 from the field (34 percent). Raef LaFrentz, who sank seven 3-pointers and scored 32 in Boston's 102-82 win over Houston on Nov. 13, went 0-for-6 Tuesday. ^Notes:@ Jon Barry, who sat out Houston's last three games with a bruised left foot, played only two minutes before getting hurt again. Barry entered with 2:59 left in the opening quarter, then strained his right calf with 1:01 remaining and didn't return. ... Two Celtics who jumped to the NBA out of high school were close to home. Kendrick Perkins played at Ozen High School in Beaumont, about 50 miles away, and rookie forward Gerald Green starred at Gulf Shores Academy in Houston. ... The Rockets waived guard Dion Glover, who'd been sidelined since training camp with a right knee injury.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 73 91
    FGM-FGA 23-67 (.343) 34-76 (.447)
    3PM-3PA 3-9 (.333) 5-18 (.278)
    FTM-FTA 24-34 (.706) 18-25 (.720)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 14-36 13-43
    Assists 8 19
    Turnovers 17 16
    Steals 7 8
    Blocks 2 6
    Fast Break Points 6 4
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 26 (3/0) 26 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 2 19

    Top Performers

    Paul Pierce Pierce
    Points: 20
    Reb: 3
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0
    Tracy McGrady McGrady
    Points: 35
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 2