Houston will again look to get someone to step up and help the injured McGrady when it hosts the New Orleans Hornets.
Jon Barry came off the bench to lead all scorers with 24 points in Houston’s 98-89 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday. Yao notched a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while McGrady played in pain and added 23 points, five rebounds and five assists.
McGrady, who sat out Houston’s last two preseason games with tendinitis in both knees, walked gingerly off the court Wednesday and had to wear a wrap around his left leg.
“There’s nothing I can do about it,” McGrady said. “It hurts every time I jump. I can’t be as explosive as I want. I’m just real tentative.”
If McGrady is going to continue playing through pain, the Rockets will need other players to continue to contribute. Yao, who signed a five-year contract extension worth $75 million in September, knows performances like Barry’s on Wednesday will be instrumental to Houston’s success this season.
“He (Barry) is a very good scorer and a very good shooter and definitely a player we can count on,” Yao said. “That took a lot of pressure off of us and I believe that can help us win a lot of games.”
In addition to the re-signing of Barry, Houston’s revamped backcourt of Derek Anderson and Rafer Alston should be able to ease McGrady’s scoring duties. Offseason acquisition Stromile Swift should add extra frontcourt presence for Yao.
After coming away with a 93-67 win over Sacramento in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, the Hornets were routed 109-87 at Cleveland on Wednesday.
The Hornets trailed 66-47 at the half and allowed LeBron James to finish with 31 points.
“LeBron’s great, but from the beginning we looked like we were scared,” Hornets coach Byron Scott said. “We were very soft. When you start off slow, you are going to get your head handed to you.”
STANDINGS (through Nov. 4): Hornets - 3rd place, 1 GB, Southwest Division. Rockets - 2nd place, 1/2 GB, Southwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Hornets - Smith, 17.0 ppg; West, 8.0 rpg; Nachbar, 4.5 apg. Rockets - Barry, 24.0 ppg; Yao, 10.0 rpg and 4.0 apg.
2004-05 SEASON SERIES: Rockets, 3-1.
LAST MEETING: April 1; Hornets, 76-73. At Houston, Brown had 13 points and eight rebounds off the bench as the Hornets avoided being swept in the series. McGrady led all scorers with 21 points.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hornets - 0-1 on the road. Home - 1-0 at home.