Saturday, March 15, 2008


Tracy McGrady, alone on the midcourt "R," leaned over, hands on knees, unable to muster or simply unwilling to expend the energy needed to move any longer.

So he stood motionless as the Toyota Center crowd rose around him in roaring salute.

He and the Rockets had been pushed hard, tested as they rarely have been in their winning streak, before surging through the fourth quarter to an 89-80 win over the Charlotte Bobcats that took the Rockets winning streak to 21 games, the second-longest in NBA history.

By the time they left the floor with their 14th consecutive home win, they were headed to Sunday’s showdown with the Lakers tied with Los Angeles for first place in the Western Conference.

The latest win was one of the most difficult.

From McGrady needing to carry the Rockets offense with 30 points to rookie Mike Harris providing a vital lift off the bench to Dikembe Mutombo slamming the door with two blocked shots in the last minute, the Rockets needed all they could find to outlast Charlotte.

Luis Scola added 13 points with Shane Battier and Harris, less than a week into a 10-day contract, each getting 12 points.

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