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McGrady outwits Sonics' rookie Durant in final minute

SEATTLE (AP) -- Kevin Durant wants to eventually model his game after Tracy McGrady.

Durant got a view Wednesday night of just how good McGrady is, even with a gimpy leg.

Nursing a left knee injury, McGrady put together a second half that showed even with one good leg he's still one of the best in the game. McGrady scored 18 of his 28 points in the second half and took over in the final 90 seconds, both scoring and passing, helping the Rockets rally to beat the SuperSonics 109-107.

McGrady was responsible for Houston's final eight points, scoring five himself and setting up Rafer Alston's 3-pointer with 16 seconds left that gave Houston a four-point lead Seattle couldn't overcome.

"Tonight was a huge jump in getting back to my old self," McGrady said.

Seattle would have preferred not to see any signs of the old McGrady. Instead, McGrady was largely responsible for Seattle's 12th straight loss, the worst single-season losing streak in franchise history. And this one might be the most painful.

"That's why I want to pattern my game after him," Durant said. "On one leg and doing the things he did, words can't explain it."

The Sonics led by double figures much of the night and held a 99-89 lead with 5 minutes left after Durant scored from the wing.

Then it quickly slipped away.

The Sonics' lead was down to 102-101 when Durant upstaged his idol, stuffing McGrady's jumper and forcing Alston to hoist a desperation 3-pointer to beat the shot clock. It missed and Kurt Thomas was fouled on the rebound, splitting his two free throws to give the Sonics a 103-101 lead with 1:51 left.

But McGrady quickly showed his veteran savvy on Houston's next possession. With the shot clock about to expire, McGrady faked out Durant, then swished a step-back 3-pointer to give Houston its first lead since it was 24-22.

Thomas quickly got the lead back for Seattle, hitting a 15-footer, but McGrady answered by powering to the basket and scoring over Durant to give Houston a 106-105 lead. After Luke Ridnour missed an easy 5-footer, McGrady drove under the basket, drawing three Sonics. That left Alston open at the top of the key for the last of his season-high five 3-pointers.

"It was a hell of a comeback," McGrady said. "This was a game where we were playing catch-up and those guys weren't missing shots. We did a great job of staying in there."

Even with a four-point lead, the Sonics weren't done. Durant scored and McGrady missed a pair of free throws, giving the Sonics a final chance.

As expected, they went to Durant, who called for a clear out and drove on Chuck Hayes. Durant thought he was past Hayes, but Hayes swiped an arm from behind and swatted Durant's drive out of bounds.

Seattle had one last shot, but Durant was long on an open 26-footer that would have won it.

"I should have made the shot. I was ready to celebrate," Durant said.

Yao Ming scored 26 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Alston finished with 18 points for Houston.

But this night was about McGrady. He was great in the closing minutes, but it was the third quarter when he found a rhythm and the discomfort in his left knee seemed non apparent.

"He saved the team tonight," Yao said.

McGrady scored 11 in the third, including three consecutive jumpers from the same spot on the right wing late in the quarter.

Still, Seattle led 97-84 early in the fourth and held a 10-point advantage with 5 minutes to go. That's when the Rockets surged back, and everyone contributed.

Carl Landry scored underneath, Alston hit a 3, McGrady scored from the perimeter and Yao made a pair of free throws. Meanwhile, Seattle's only points were a runner from Ridnour and the second of two free throws by Nick Collison.

Battier tossed in a deep 3 and the Sonics' lead was down to 102-101, setting up the frantic final minutes.

Houston has won three straight -- including a 96-89 win over Seattle on Monday in Houston -- and has rebounded from a pair of disappointing home losses to Philadelphia and New Orleans.

"The biggest thing besides the win was Tracy was able to bust through tonight," Rockets' coach Rick Adelman said. "To get the win and have him break through ... that was just huge for us."

Seattle led 59-50 at halftime, just the second time since 2008 began that the Sonics held a halftime lead. The only other time was on Jan. 3 against Phoenix, when the Sonics led 45-43 at the break, only to get overtaken in the second half of a 104-96 loss.

Thomas finished with 16 points and Collison grabbed 14 rebounds for Seattle.

Game notes
Seattle shot 60 percent in the first half and 52 percent for the game. Durant made at least 50 percent of his shots (12-of-23) for just the third time in 2008. ... Rockets' rookie Aaron Brooks, a Seattle native, had more than 100 family and friends in attendance for his first professional game in his hometown.