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HOUSTON: McGrady disappears in second half

Published April 27, 2007 2:59 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Tracy McGrady jumped the gun.

Houston's All-Star forward was a Jazz-killer in Games 1 and 2, doing the bulk of his damage in the second half, and the Rockets picked up two victories on their home court.

But he uncharacteristically was quiet in the second half of Game 3, when his team managed just 25 points, en route to a record-setting 81-67 loss. McGrady scored eight of his 24 points after the break - three in the third and five in the fourth - and the Rockets scored their fewest points ever in a playoff game.

Did he get tired?

"They did a better job on the pick-and-rolls," McGrady said. "They blitzed me to get the ball out of my hands. On my post-ups, they sent an extra guy."

The nine-year NBA veteran torched the Jazz at the start of Game 3, making his first four shots - a variety of jumpers - and scoring Houston's first eight points.

It was a different McGrady than the Jazz saw in Houston. At home, the 6-foot-8 guard came on strong in the second half, scoring 16 points in the third quarter in Game 1 and 13 in the third in Game 2. He was a big reason why the Jazz couldn't hold onto a pair of early leads in Houston.

But not Thursday.

Credit the Jazz's defense, specifically, a rotation that maintained its physical play because of coach Jerry Sloan's regular substitutions.

"They got after us hard," said Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy. "They were chasing the ball down a lot harder than we were."

The No. 5-seeded Rockets will need McGrady, who has never advanced to the second round of the playoffs, to play better if they are to get out of this one.

"It's going to be tough," McGrady said. "Nobody said it was going to be easy."

lgustus@sltrib.com

Jazz tame T-Mac

First quarter

6-for-9, 13 points

Second quarter

0-for-2, 3 points

Third quarter

1-for-8, 3 points

Fourth quarter

2-for-4, 5 points