Reservations for Six: Rockets keep winning streak alive as trade deadline nears

The Houston Rockets are finally playing solid basketball with the 2008 NBA All-Star game in New Orleans less than two weeks away. Center Yao Ming was selected as a Western Conference All-Star starter for the sixth consecutive season. Rockets guard Tracy McGrady, who has had a sub-par season because of injuries, was not selected to the All-Star game, ending his streak of seven consecutive appearances.

The Rockets have won 15 of their last 20 games, extending their winning streak on the road to eight, and moved within one game of the eighth spot in the Western Conference, currently held by the Golden State Warriors.

Yao had his biggest game of the season against the Warriors on Jan. 29 with 36 points and 19 rebounds leading the Rockets to a 111-107 win without McGrady.

In the second game of a three-game road trip, rookie forward Carl Landry had a career-high 22 points against the Indiana Pacers, including 13 in the fourth quarter.

The Rockets finished the trip with a 92-86 win over the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday as McGrady had 26 points, seven assists and six rebounds.

Recently acquired Al Jefferson led the Timberwolves with 33 points and 16 rebounds. Jefferson proved to be a great pickup in the Kevin Garnett trade, but the Rockets held on, improving to 8-1 since McGrady’s return.

At 28-20 and ninth in the West, the Rockets look to make a playoff run with the trade deadline still more than a few weeks away. The Rockets begin a four-game home stand against Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers tomorrow night and follow with games against the Atlanta Hawks, Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings.

Around the League The Los Angeles Lakers acquired forward Pau Gasol and a 2010 second-round draft pick from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for former No. 1 draft pick Kwame Brown, rookie Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, the contract rights to Gasol’s younger brother, Marc Gasol, and first round draft picks in 2008 and 2010.

The San Antonio Spurs signed veteran point guard Damon Stoudamire, and the Charlotte Bobcats signed point guard Earl Boykins to a contract for the rest of the season. The Warriors also made a key acquisition by signing forward Chris Webber, adding another scorer to the frontcourt.

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