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NBA   FINAL            1ST  2ND  3RD  4TH   TOTAL
                       ---  ---  ---  ---   -----
      HOUSTON          25   20   33   20    98   
      PHOENIX          31   16   17   33    97      FINAL

HIGH SCORERS:   HOU - TRACY MCGRADY 34, BOB SURA 13, DIKEMBE 
                      MUTOMBO 12
                PHO - AMARE STOUDEMIRE 32, SHAWN MARION 20, 
                      STEVE NASH 19

HIGH REBOUND:   HOU - DIKEMBE MUTOMBO 13, TRACY MCGRADY 8, YAO
                      MING 8
                PHO - AMARE STOUDEMIRE 12, SHAWN MARION 9, JOE
                      JOHNSON 9

HIGH ASSISTS:   HOU - BOB SURA 6, THREE PLAYERS WITH 3
                PHO - STEVE NASH 5, THREE PLAYERS WITH 3

         ATT:   18,422

Box Score

HOUSTON (98) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp T McGrady 45 12-25 9-12 1-8 3 0 34 C Weatherspoon 7 0-3 0-0 0-3 0 0 0 Y Ming 25 4-9 2-2 5-8 0 5 10 B Sura 28 4-12 3-5 0-2 6 1 13 D Wesley 35 4-9 0-0 1-2 3 2 9 D Mutombo 23 4-6 4-4 3-13 0 3 12 R Bowen 28 3-8 0-0 0-2 3 0 6 J Barry 21 2-6 0-0 2-4 2 2 5 M James 20 2-9 2-2 0-3 1 2 6 S Padgett 8 1-3 0-0 0-1 0 1 3 V Baker DNP - COACH'S DECISION T Braggs DNP - COACH'S DECISION _____________________________________________________ TOTALS 240 36-90 20-25 12-46 18 16 98 _____________________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.400, FT-.800. 3-Point Goals: 6-20, .300 (T McGrady 1-4, B Sura 2-4, D Wesley 1-2, J Barry 1-3, M James 0-4, S Padgett 1-3). Team Rebounds: 9. Blocked Shots:5 (Y Ming 3, D Mutombo 2). Turnovers:5 (Y Ming 2, C Weatherspoon, B Sura, T McGrady). Steals: 9 (B Sura 2, J Barry 2, T McGrady 2, D Mutombo, R Bowen, M James). PHOENIX (97) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Q Richardson 32 0-7 0-0 0-3 2 3 0 S Marion 39 9-16 0-0 1-9 3 2 20 A Stoudemire 36 11-20 10-12 6-12 1 6 32 S Nash 36 8-19 0-0 1-3 5 1 19 J Johnson 45 7-14 0-0 2-9 2 1 16 J Jackson 19 2-6 0-0 1-2 3 3 5 L Barbosa 12 0-2 2-2 0-2 3 1 2 S Hunter 16 1-6 1-2 5-7 0 1 3 W Mccarty 5 0-1 0-0 1-5 1 2 0 B Outlaw DNP - COACH'S DECISION J Voskuhl DNP - COACH'S DECISION P Shirley DNP - COACH'S DECISION _____________________________________________________ TOTALS 240 38-91 13-16 17-52 20 20 97 _____________________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.418, FT-.813. 3-Point Goals: 8-31, .258 (Q Richardson 0-5, S Marion 2-6, S Nash 3-7, J Johnson 2-7, J Jackson 1-3, L Barbosa 0-2, W Mccarty 0-1). Team Rebounds: 8. Blocked Shots:5 (A Stoudemire 3, S Nash, S Marion). Turnovers:10 (S Nash 3, A Stoudemire 2, W Mccarty, S Marion, L Barbosa, Q Richardson, J Johnson). Steals: 2 (A Stoudemire 2). ------------------------------------------- HOUSTON 25 20 33 20 - 98 PHOENIX 31 16 17 33 - 97 ------------------------------------------- Technical fouls: None. Flagrant fouls: None. A: 18,422. T: 2:26. Officials: Bob Delaney, Derek Richardson, Jason Phillips.


Extended Box

HOUSTON (98) AT PHOENIX (97) HOUSTON REBOUNDS PLAYER POS MIN FGM-FGA FTM-FTA OFF-DEF-TOT AST PF ST TO PTS ====== === === ======= ======= =========== === == == == === T MCGRADY F 45 12-25 9-12 1 7 8 3 0 2 1 34 C WEATHERSPOON F 7 0-3 0-0 0 3 3 0 0 0 1 0 Y MING C 25 4-9 2-2 5 3 8 0 5 0 2 10 B SURA G 28 4-12 3-5 0 2 2 6 1 2 1 13 D WESLEY G 35 4-9 0-0 1 1 2 3 2 0 0 9 D MUTOMBO 23 4-6 4-4 3 10 13 0 3 1 0 12 R BOWEN 28 3-8 0-0 0 2 2 3 0 1 0 6 J BARRY 21 2-6 0-0 2 2 4 2 2 2 0 5 M JAMES 20 2-9 2-2 0 3 3 1 2 1 0 6 S PADGETT 8 1-3 0-0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 3 V BAKER DNP - COACH'S DECISION T BRAGGS DNP - COACH'S DECISION TOTALS 240 36-90 20-25 12 34 46 18 16 9 5 98 (.400) (.800) TEAM REBS: 9 TOTAL TO: 7 (9 PTS) PHOENIX REBOUNDS PLAYER POS MIN FGM-FGA FTM-FTA OFF-DEF-TOT AST PF ST TO PTS ====== === === ======= ======= =========== === == == == === Q RICHARDSON F 32 0-7 0-0 0 3 3 2 3 0 1 0 S MARION F 39 9-16 0-0 1 8 9 3 2 0 1 20 A STOUDEMIRE C 36 11-20 10-12 6 6 12 1 6 2 2 32 S NASH G 36 8-19 0-0 1 2 3 5 1 0 3 19 J JOHNSON G 45 7-14 0-0 2 7 9 2 1 0 1 16 J JACKSON 19 2-6 0-0 1 1 2 3 3 0 0 5 L BARBOSA 12 0-2 2-2 0 2 2 3 1 0 1 2 S HUNTER 16 1-6 1-2 5 2 7 0 1 0 0 3 W MCCARTY 5 0-1 0-0 1 4 5 1 2 0 1 0 B OUTLAW DNP - COACH'S DECISION J VOSKUHL DNP - COACH'S DECISION P SHIRLEY DNP - COACH'S DECISION TOTALS 240 38-91 13-16 17 35 52 20 20 2 10 97 (.418) (.813) TEAM REBS: 8 TOTAL TO: 11 (15 PTS) HOUSTON 25 20 33 20 - 98 PHOENIX 31 16 17 33 - 97 BLOCKED SHOTS: HOUSTON - Y MING 3, D MUTOMBO 2. PHOENIX - A STOUDEMIRE 3, S NASH, S MARION. 3-PT. FIELD GOALS: HOUSTON 6-20 (.300), T MCGRADY 1-4, B SURA 2-4, D WESLEY 1-2, J BARRY 1-3, M JAMES 0-4, S PADGETT 1-3. PHOENIX 8- 31 (.258), Q RICHARDSON 0-5, S MARION 2-6, S NASH 3-7, J JOHNSON 2- 7, J JACKSON 1-3, L BARBOSA 0-2, W MCCARTY 0-1. TECHNICAL FOULS: NONE. FLAGRANT FOULS: NONE. OFFICIALS: BOB DELANEY, DEREK RICHARDSON, JASON PHILLIPS. A - 18,422. T - 2:26.


Game Story

PHOENIX (Ticker) -- Tracy McGrady's big effort put the Houston Rockets on the precipice of a postseason berth. Steven Hunter's miss got them over it. McGrady scored 34 points and Hunter's follow dunk rattled out as time expired to allow the Rockets to cling to a 98-97 victory over the Phoenix Suns. Combined with a loss by Minnesota (40-37), Houston (46-31) clinched its second straight playoff berth. McGrady will make his return to the postseason after playing with Orlando, which finished with the worst record in the NBA last season. "I didn't care (about clinching a playoff spot)," McGrady said. "We still have six more games left. That's the only thing that we're focusing on and trying to move up this ladder. I don't care about clinching anything." After Bob Sura missed a pair of free throws with 7.8 seconds left, the Suns had two chances for the win. Steve Nash's fadeaway jumper bounded high off the rim, and Hunter was there to dunk home the rebound. However, his attempt rattled out, allowing the Rockets to escape. "I don't know, I thought it was in. It was just bad luck, just bad luck," Hunter said. "I was trying to dunk it. It was an easy dunk, maybe too easy. I don't understand, nine times out of 10 that dunk falls. It just came out. I don't know how it happened." "I should have made it," Nash said. "It kind of slipped and I didn't get up high enough and Steve was at the right place at the right time and was really unlucky." The Rockets trailed by as many as 14 points in the second quarter. After allowing Phoenix to score 31 points in the first period, Houston held the highest-scoring team in the league to just 32 over the next two periods. "We didn't stop them," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "We're humble enough, I hope, at least I am, to understand that every time you win, you don't have to beat your chest like you're a resident genius. We were fortunate to win playing a great team." "We were off a little bit, but we just need to do the little things we were doing to get the good lead we got in the first quarter," Suns forward Shawn Marion said. "I think we just stopped running it as much as we did. We just stopped pushing the tempo, we started playing their game. It is a half-court game and grinding the ball inside." McGrady scored 11 points during a 15-2 burst that gave the Rockets a 70-59 lead with 2:28 left in the third quarter. Houston never trailed thereafter. "I'm happy because we won the game," McGrady said. "I'm not satisfied with it. We've got to do better. We did a great job of fighting our way back into the game and building a comfortable lead in the fourth quarter." Trailing, 84-70, with nine minutes to go, Phoenix slowly began to chip away at the deficit. Joe Johnson, who scored seven of his 16 points in the final period, triggered the comeback with a 3-pointer and a dunk. Amare Stoudemire and Nash each scored nine as the Suns outscored the Rockets, 33-20, in the fourth quarter. Stoudemire collected 32 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out with 2:01 left. "Both teams were playing hard and that was a questionable call with two minutes left," Stoudemire said. "But you can't change it, and it was tough." After winning six games in a row, the Suns have lost two straight, squandering 14-point leads in both contests. "I think it's dangerous," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We shouldn't do it, obviously. We're a young team and I don't think we understand the ramifications totally." "We have to stop being comfortable with the lead," Stoudemire said. "We have to bring our 'A' game and we have to play hard from jump ball to the end. That is something that we've got to do to win the championship. We have to think like champions and play like champions." Phoenix (57-19) saw its lead over Miami and San Antonio shrink to one game in the race for the best record in the league.


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