Rockets look to rebound
The Houston Rockets’ 22-game win streak finally came to a screeching halt Tuesday with a 94-74 loss to the Boston Celtics. The second-longest win streak in NBA history lasted almost seven weeks, including a perfect month of February and a few days at the 1 seed in the Western Conference.
Finishing a three-game road trip Saturday night, the Rockets headed into the desert to meet the Phoenix Suns. Suns forward Amare Stoudemire had 38 points and 13 rebounds in the Suns’ 122-113 win. Rockets guard Tracy McGrady had a great game with 30 points, eight rebounds and nine assists, but Suns’ center Shaquille O’Neal chipped in with 23 points and 13 rebounds, giving Phoenix seven consecutive wins.
McGrady played two sub-par games during the Rockets’ losses to the Celtics and New Orleans Hornets in back-to-back nights. The Rockets scored 74 and 69 points in those two games with McGrady scoring 8 and 15 points, respectively. In the second game of a three-game road trip, the Rockets beat the Golden State Warriors 109-106. McGrady had 26 points, eight rebounds and eight assists to regain form. Houston guard Bobby Jackson made a circus 3-pointer late in the game and added 16 points in 24 minutes, and forward Carl Landry had 17 points and eight rebounds in his return from a knee injury.
The Rockets have lost three of four games since the streak ended and have fallen from first to fifth in a very deep Western Conference. The pressure of continuing the streak and having to face four playoff teams in five days was a pretty tough task for the Rockets. On Sunday the team got a night off before tonight’s 8:30 p.m. game against the Sacramento Kings at the Toyota Center.
Houston then has a home game against the Minnesota Timberwolves followed by three days off before it begins a crucial four-game road trip against the Spurs next Sunday. The next three games on the road trip include the Portland Trail Blazers, Seattle SuperSonics and the Los Angeles Clippers.
In recent transactions, the Rockets signed center Loren Woods to a 10-day contract, releasing center Justin Williams from his 10-day contract. Forward Mike Harris, a rookie out of Rice, signed a second 10-day contract as well. Woods had 2 points in his debut against the Suns in three minutes played.
Center Yao Ming may be out for the rest of the NBA season, but with the Summer Olympics in Beijing just a few months away, he must quickly regain his health in order to represent his country. Reebok in China plans to use Yao Ming to market its products if and when the stress fracture in his left foot heals.
In a tight Western Conference with only 12 games left in the season to secure good playoff positioning, the Rockets must finish strong. Seven of the 12 games are on the road, including the Spurs and Utah Jazz. The Rockets will also see the red-hot Suns again April 11 at the Toyota Center.