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McGrady-less Rockets drub Magic 89-78
Updated: 2005-01-25 14:14

Yao Ming had 22 points and 10 rebounds, Jon Barry scored 19 and the Houston Rockets beat the Orlando Magic 89-78 on Monday night despite playing without leading scorer Tracy McGrady.

Orlando Magic's Kelvin Cato (13) and Houston Rockets' Yao Ming (11) reach for a rebound. [AP]
The Rockets won their third straight and completed a two-game season sweep of the Magic in five days, proving that — at least for now — they got the better of the summer blockbuster trade that fetched them McGrady, Juwan Howard and two other players.

McGrady, who scored 27 points in a win at Orlando on Thursday, wasn't around for the rematch because of a medical emergency in his family. Team officials weren't sure where he was going or how long he would be away.

Barry picked up the scoring slack with a season-high point total off the bench and Bob Sura added 15 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, helping the Rockets move a season-best four games over .500 (23-19).

Playing in Houston for the first time since the trade, Magic guard Steve Francis had a bittersweet homecoming.

He received a brief standing ovation during pregame introductions, but those cheers turned to a smattering of boos as the game went along.

Francis had 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists but also committed seven turnovers — basically the same kind of uneven performance that made him a fan favorite but caused him problems in Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy's methodical offense.

Kelvin Cato, also sent to Orlando in the trade, had 11 points and six rebounds. Rookie guard Jameer Nelson added 12 points.

Grant Hill, who missed the Magic's win over Philadelphia on Saturday with a bruised right wrist, scored 10 points.

The Rockets didn't miss a beat without McGrady, getting five players to score in double figures and playing Van Gundy-style stingy defense.

Houston took an early lead and held the Magic to a franchise-low 27 points in the first half, aided greatly by Francis' terrible start — two points on 1-for-8 shooting and three turnovers.

The Rockets increased their lead to 21 early in the third quarter and the Magic appeared headed for another blowout loss.

Then Francis finally got it going.

He made back-to-back jumpers and Nelson scored on a layup to bring Orlando to 72-65 midway through the fourth quarter. But Sura answered with eight points down the stretch and Francis committed three costly turnovers to seal the win for the Rockets.

At the end, former teammates Yao and Francis embraced at midcourt and chatted for a few seconds. Francis then skipped off into the locker room while the Rockets celebrated the win.

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