After leading the Rockets to a comeback victory over the weekend, McGrady looks to help them win their fourth straight when they visit the Memphis Grizzlies in a division matchup on Tuesday.
Houston (6-1) recorded a season-low point total, committed a season-high 20 turnovers and trailed by as many as 10 points on Sunday, but outscored Charlotte 25-17 in the fourth quarter to get its sixth win, 85-82.
Despite the overall poor performance of the team, McGrady had 12 of his 26 points in the final period, and Yao Ming scored a season-high 34 as the Rockets stole the win on the road.
“This was a game that we should have lost, because we didn’t play particularly well,” McGrady said. “It just goes to show how good we can be. … We found some way to keep ourselves in the game. When it mattered the most, myself and Yao brought it home.”
McGrady and Yao are both in the league’s top 10 in scoring, combining to average 51.3 points per game. They’ve combined to win three consecutive Western Conference Player of the Week awards dating to last season.
Houston will need the clutch play of its two stars to continue in order to succeed in a division that includes powerhouses San Antonio and Dallas - the teams that have combined to win all three Southwest titles since realignment before the 2004-05 season.
“This was the closest game of our season, and we’ll have more,” Yao said Sunday. “We have to prepare for that.”
The Rockets are 6-1 for the first time since 1996-97—the last time they won a playoff series. They’re currently tied with the reigning NBA champion Spurs at the top of the division.
Meanwhile, Memphis (1-4) is stuck in last place as the only Southwest team without a winning record. The Grizzlies opened a three-game road trip with a win over Seattle, but dropped the next two games by a combined 36 points. They committed 25 turnovers in a 118-94 loss at Utah on Saturday.
“I think we helped them control the tempo by turning the ball over—25 turnovers on a night is not going to allow us to have any rhythm offensively and defensively it’s the toughest thing to guard because they’re off and running,” Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni said.
Despite the frustrations early this season, the Grizzlies have been encouraged by the development of second-year forward Rudy Gay. Gay has led the Grizzlies in scoring in three straight games, averaging 24.7 points on 50.0 percent shooting in that stretch.
Each of the last two season series between these teams has resulted in a sweep. The Grizzlies won all four games during the 2005-06 season, but the Rockets swept the Grizzlies in four games last season as McGrady averaged 27.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists.