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News » Wizards-Rockets Preview

Wizards-Rockets Preview

Wizards-Rockets Preview
With two-thirds of their star trio battling injury, the Houston Rockets are trying to find a way to piece together victories.

That may not be very difficult on Monday, when the Rockets will try to extend their winning streaks both at home and against the lowly Washington Wizards to eight.

Houston forward Ron Artest missed Friday's loss at New Orleans and was planning on sitting out Saturday against Utah due to an ankle injury. But when he found out that guard Tracy McGrady wasn't playing because of a knee problem, Artest suited up and scored 28 points in the Rockets' 120-115 double-overtime win.

Ten of Artest's points, including eight free throws without a miss, came during the second overtime, as the Rockets (20-11) blew a 16-point second-half lead but still won their seventh straight at home for the first time since their 22-game overall winning streak last season.

"I thought it would be smart if I took this game off, but Mac didn't play," Artest said. "You think about the team, you think about winning and how you can help. That's what leads to, 'I'm playing.'"

It's unclear if either or both will play in Monday's game, although Artest said he'll "most likely be ready." Coach Rick Adelman said both are a "day-by-day situation."

"It's tough because you never know what's going to happen," Adelman said. "It's tough on the other guys, too, because they never know where they're going to be in the rotation and what the rotation is going to be. But there's not much we can do about it. We have to live with it right now and address it because we have a ton of games coming up where it could be the same thing."

While both Artest and McGrady have missed time and are struggling with career-worst field goal percentages, the one near-constant for Houston has been Yao Ming.

Yao has missed just one game due to injury and is averaging 20.3 points and 9.7 rebounds, shooting 53.3 percent from the field. He had 26 points and 11 rebounds against the Jazz for his 17th double-double.

The one constant for Washington this season has been losing, although the Wizards (5-23) finally ended an eight-game slide with a 104-95 win over Oklahoma City on Saturday.

The game pitted the teams with the two worst records in the NBA, but Washington saved face at home even with Caron Butler sidelined with a sprained ankle. Antawn Jamison scored 29 points, while Andray Blatche added 19 and matched a career high with 15 rebounds.

"I don't care if it's the best team in the league - or the worst team," Jamison said.

"We've been in a lot of close games. It's important just to get a win. We were missing an All-Star and it's important that other guys step up."

In their previous game, the Wizards blew a late seven-point lead to lose 93-89 on Christmas Day at Cleveland. That dropped them to 1-11 on the road this season.

Even though they've qualified for the playoffs for four straight seasons, the Wizards have long struggled against the Rockets, losing seven straight overall in the series and 13 of their last 14 at Houston.

Washington lost 94-69 at the Toyota Center last Feb. 26, and after its 103-91 home loss to Houston on Nov. 21, a Rockets win Monday would give the team a series sweep for the fourth straight season.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 29, 2008


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