Reserve Carl Landry scored 26 points to lead the Rockets to a 98-93 victory Saturday night over New Jersey, sending the Nets to their ninth straight loss.
The win capped a tumultuous day for the Rockets in which McGrady, a two-time NBA scoring champion, left the team to return to Houston. He will not play Sunday when the Rockets travel to Cleveland.
McGrady has been unhappy with his diminished role. He has appeared in six games this season following microfracture surgery on the left knee in February, averaging only 3.2 points a game in the comeback.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said the team would wait until it returned to Houston after the weekend back-to-back games to consider any changes to the rotation.
The Rockets are a resilient bunch, having overcome the major injuries to McGrady and Yao Ming, who underwent left foot surgery that has sidelined him all season.
"It is not about height or size," Landry said. "It's about heart, courage and toughness."
The Rockets needed a determined effort to hold off the Nets, who hung tough before falling to 2-28.
"It wasn't pretty but we'll take the win," Rockets coach Rick Adelman said. "The Nets are professionals, they have really good players. We had the lead to pull away and we just didn't do it."
Houston needed some last-minute clutch baskets -- and some Net misses -- to pull out the win.
Houston beat New Jersey for the seventh straight time.
"You try to learn a lesson from these close ones," Harris said. "We're just a few shots away. It was still a meaningful game with 2 minutes to go. We've got to be proud of the way guys keep fighting."
The Rockets led 70-69 after three quarters as the Nets, who had trailed by as many as 11, hung in gamely, getting a boost from rookie Terrence Williams.
Yi made the first basket of the final period, giving the Nets their first lead since the game's opening basket when he banked a shot off the glass for a one-point advantage.
That set the stage for a back-and-fourth final quarter until Landry took charge, putting Houston up by two on a pair of free throws followed by a driving dunk.
The Nets countered with consecutive baskets by Lopez to cut the Rockets' lead to 86-85. Both teams missed layups before Ariza hit a jumper to give Houston a three-point margin.
Keyon Dooling made a 3-pointer with 1:38 to even the score at 91. After Landry turned the ball over, the Nets could not grab the lead when Yi missed a wide-open jumper. Brooks then made his driving layup, giving the Rockets a 93-91 edge.
Nets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe is 2-10 since also becoming coach after Lawrence Frank was fired. ... The Rockets avoided their second two-game losing streak. ... Yi was whistled for a technical foul for hanging on the rim with 2:26 remaining. ... Lopez tallied his 17th double-double, pulling down 11 rebounds. He also had a season-high three steals. ... Houston has won seven in a row in New Jersey. They last lost here on March 31, 2003. ... Landry finished one point shy of his career high.
New NBA playoff predictions: Who grabs the 8-seed to play the Lakers?
With the Blazers' loss on Saturday, how is the six-team race shaping up now? Here are the latest projections.
Raptors' Marc Gasol prepared for a sentimental first matchup with Grizzlies, his former team
The Memphis Grizzles will face Marc Gasol and the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. the first game between the clubs since Gasol was traded to Toronto in February 2019.
Lillard responds to Beverley's and George's antics
Damian Lillard contends that Patrick Beverley and Paul George trolling him after his misses is a sign of respect and points out he's sent both home in the playoffs.