Houston (41-27) at New Orleans (15-52)

Cloudy Currently: New Orleans, LA
Temp: 69° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EST Fri Mar 25, 2005
  • TV: FSSW
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Tracy McGrady is showing signs of breaking out of his shooting slump.

McGrady will try to keep up his improvement as the Houston Rockets try for their third straight win when they visit the lowly New Orleans Hornets.

McGrady was averaging 20.4 points—five below his average—and shooting just 30.4 percent in five games before the Rockets faced the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday.

The All-star swingman scored 31 points on 11-of-21 shooting to lead the Rockets to a 99-80 rout. He attacked the basket throughout the game, driving into the lane almost every time he touched the ball as the Rockets posted their seventh win in nine games.

“I just wanted to come in this game and stay aggressive,” the 6-foot-8 McGrady said. “I’m just trying to get out of that slump. To do that, you just go to the hole, get your confidence that way and everything will open up.”

Bob Sura had 12 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for Houston, which was coming off an impressive 84-82 victory over the league-leading Miami Heat on Tuesday. The Rockets shot 48 percent on Thursday, outrebounded Cleveland 48-37 and never trailed in the second half.

“We got into a rhythm,” said reserve guard Mike James, who scored 15 points. “All of a sudden, it started getting into a flow.”

Yao Ming added 13 points and eight rebounds for the Rockets, who open a four-game road trip and have won five of their last seven games away from the Toyota Center. Houston in sixth place in the Western Conference, one game behind fifth-place Sacramento.

New Orleans has lost seven of its last nine games, including a 107-102 defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday. Jamaal Magloire had 20 points and 17 rebounds for the Hornets, who trailed by as many as 20 points.

Rookie J.R. Smith added 20 points and seven assists as New Orleans had seven players in double figures but played poorly on defense. The Hornets are allowing an average of 107.7 points and 48.2 percent shooting in their last three games.

“I think right now our team defense is really poor,” said Magloire, a 6-11 center. “We don’t trust one another, we don’t help each other all the time.”

Speedy Claxton missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle and is not expected to play in this game.

The Rockets have won nine of the last 12 meetings with the Hornets, including five in a row.

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