It worked perfectly.
Morris Peterson scored 18 points and led the smothering
defensive effort on McGrady in the Raptors' 94-81 victory over the
injury-depleted Rockets on Wednesday night.
The 6-foot-7 Peterson also had five rebounds and seven assists,
but he was at his best blanketing McGrady, who scored only seven
points on 2-of-11 shooting after averaging 27 in Houston's previous
"If you'd have told me before the game that T-Mac would score
only seven points, I wouldn't have believed you," Peterson said.
"I can't take all the credit. I've got to give credit to my
teammates -- but I definitely took it as a challenge."
McGrady had a season-high 11 assists, but could've had twice
that number if his teammates had hit more open shots -- the Rockets
went 5-for-21 from 3-point range (24 percent).
"They really showed our other guys absolutely no regard,"
Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "I've never seen a team just
leave small guys wide open behind the 3. But that proved
Peterson shadowed McGrady wherever he went and whenever the
five-time All-Star touched the ball, Peterson and another Raptor
"It's kind of tough when you've got two guys on you," McGrady
said. "They did a great job double-teaming me."
McGrady scored six points in the first quarter, then missed five
shots and sank only a single free throw the rest of the way.
"Tracy is just too good for one guy to guard him," Toronto
coach Sam Mitchell said. "Mo did a good job, but it was everybody
doubling him and just moving their feet and staying connected. The
plan was not to leave him alone."
And with no Yao Ming and only nine healthy players, McGrady and
the rest of the Rockets couldn't solve the Raptors' scheme.
Yao is out at least six weeks after surgery on his infected left
big toe. Houston also played without Yao's backup, Dikembe Mutombo
(dislocated right middle finger), and guards Derek Anderson (calf
strain), Jon Barry (calf strain) and Rafer Alston (fractured
McGrady knows other teams will try the same strategy on him --
and he's convinced the Rockets will handle it better the next time.
"With all of these guys being out, that's pretty much all I'm
going to see," McGrady said. "I'm going to continue to do what I
do. I'm not necessarily going to force any shots, but I will
continue to try to get these guys the looks they got tonight."
"We just have to roll with what we have," said Howard. "We're
not going to be sulking or worrying about who's not there. We're
going to play hard with what we have."
The Rockets missed 9 of their first 12 shots and trailed from
the opening minutes.
McGrady and Howard scored 14 of Houston's first 16 points, but
the more-balanced Raptors built a nine-point lead in the opening
Head and Moochie Norris, pressed into more playing time because
of injuries to other Houston guards, helped the Rockets cut the
lead to five by halftime. Together, they had 17 points in the
second quarter and Head sank a 3-pointer in the half's final minute
to trim Houston's deficit to 48-43.
The Rockets trailed only 57-50 after Lonnie Baxter dunked at the
8-minute mark of the third quarter. James answered with a drive and
Peterson stole the ball from McGrady and hit two free throws to
push the lead into double digits.
Toronto led 70-58 heading to the fourth and outscored Houston
15-9 in the first 4½ minutes to put the game away.
The Rockets were playing their first home game since Dec.
6. They won five of six games on a West Coast swing, a franchise
record for victories on a single road trip. ...The game marked the
first professional meeting between rookie twins Joey and Stephen
Graham, who played together at Oklahoma State. Joey, 10 minutes
older, scored 10 points for the Raptors, while Stephen had one
basket in six minutes for Houston. ...In the second quarter,
Rockets guard David Wesley dove over the scorers' table saving a
loose ball and landed on former Rocket and current television
analyst Clyde Drexler. ...The Rockets had won nine of their
previous 10 home games against Toronto.