The Rockets played four games in six nights this week and won three of them. It started in Oklahoma City where the Rockets handled the Thunder with apparent ease, though ultimately the game proved costly. Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady both tweaked old injuries and Ron Artest sprained his ankle. Yao was held out of the Dallas game two days later for precautionary reasons. McGrady and Artest both played, but neither was 100%. Dallas thrashed the undermanned Rockets, with Nowitzki scoring 24 and perennial Rocket-killer Jason Terry hitting 13 of 21 shots for 31 points. All hands were on deck for the back-back games against Washington and Orlando and the Rockets used strong fourth quarters to pull out a pair of road victories.
After the OKC game, McGrady gave lip-service to "shutting it down for a while", obviously frustrated by the nagging injuries that are preventing him from being the T-Mac of old. To his credit, he suited up and gave it his best against Dallas. There was a story before the season began in reference to his sitting out virtually the entire pre-season. An unnamed teammate was quoted as saying that Tracy wanted the fame and accolades of being a superstar, but didn't want to pay the price for it. Those of us who have never been in the Rockets' training room or (obviously) inside Tracy's head cannot judge how bad his pain really is, but it's not the first time it's been said.
At 9-5, the Rockets are tied for second in the Western Conference behind only the Lakers. Obviously that's not bad and if they maintain that rate, 53 wins will probably get them home field advantage for the playoffs. The biggest concern is inconsistency. They've lost a couple they should have won. The probable cause is injuries. The nagging pain experienced by the Rockets' superstars can be worse some nights than others. What they need most is another player that brings all he has to the court every single night.
Shane! Come back Shane!