T-Mac says he's ready, but the Rockets disagree; that intrigue, plus updates on Biedrins, Rip, and Tyrus in your late Tuesday bullets...• Tracy McGrady(notes) went through his first full practice of the season Monday without any complications, meaning he's at least a bit closer to seeing the floor than he was previously. That's about as much clarity as the situation got in the 24 hours or so since. McGrady admitted that he needs to work on his fitness level and get back in game "rhythm", but added that he feels ready to go whenever the Rockets want him to:
"I feel I can play, but the coach and the GM obviously feel different. They run this team and until they feel I'm ready to play, then I guess I'll be watching."
The team (by way of assistant coach Elston Turner) reiterated its stance in regards to getting him back on the active roster, treating this first practice like the start of his training camp:
"What athlete, what former All-Star, wouldn't want to play? He's gone through a major surgery and he is coming back and it's a process to get him back on the court full time. But when you're building a team, there's chemistry that develops so when he does come back we would like him to be back -- instead of in a week, out a week. He went though through the workout today, he started and he finished but it’s still a process and we have to bring him back slowly."
T-Mac also had an MRI after practice, and the team's head orthopedic released the following statement regarding the results:
"Tracy is on a normal course of recovery and has the expected level of performance for someone at his stage following microfracture surgery. We will continue to monitor his progress over the coming weeks to ensure that pain and swelling are kept to a minimum after further periods of practice participation."
The key words are "slowly" and "weeks" and between the two statements you get the idea that the team really wants to take its time before unleashing McGrady upon the rest of the NBA. If they do stick to something that resembles a training camp timeframe, then we're talking three weeks to a month before they'll let him see game action. That should be the expectation at this point, but of course we'll hear more from T-Mac and the Rockets in the interim.
• Dahntay Jones(notes) and Roy Hibbert(notes) came off the bench for the Pacers on Tuesday, with Troy Murphy(notes) and Jeff Foster(notes) taking their places in the starting lineup. While Foster got the nod ahead of Hibbert because of matchups, Jim O'Brien said that it's better for the Pacers' rotation "if Dahntay comes off the bench."
The results in a 123-112 loss to the Raptors on Tuesday: Murphy had 11 points, two threes, eight boards, five assists, and two blocks in 33 minutes; Foster had four points, four boards, and five fouls in 21 minutes; Jones had 12 points and four assists in 27 minutes; and Hibbert had 8 points and three boards in just 13 minutes.
• Elton Brand(notes) wasn't exactly on his way to a stellar effort on Tuesday (4 points on 1-of-9 shooting, 4 fouls in 27 minutes) before leaving the game with a sore right hamstring. He was evaluated after the game and is officially listed as day-to-day.
• Samuel Dalembert(notes) had his best game of the season against the Wizards (15 points, 9 boards, 4 blocks). He's largely absent from the 76ers' gameplan on most nights and I'd chalk this up to Brand's foul and injury issues before I'd think about associating it with an impending turnaround for Dalembert.
• An official timeframe of three to six weeks has been released for Mike Miller(notes) regarding his strained right calf. Nick Young(notes) got the start on Tuesday for the Wizards at shooting guard in Miller's place. Young had totaled 12 points in six previous appearances entering the game, but went for 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting, with two threes and four boards in 32 minutes. Randy Foye(notes) (16 minutes, 9 points, 3 threes) is still the add here -- Young is adept at creating usage for himself, but his one-dimensional game means it's doubtful that he'll own the position while Miller is sidelined.
• The Mavericks had no answer on defense for Monta Ellis(notes), who went for 37 points and eight assists (yes, and 11 turnovers) while playing 48 minutes on Tuesday. The short-handed Warriors played just six players, with Anthony Morrow(notes) (27 points, 6 threes, 9 boards, 5 assists, 3 steals) and Vladimir Radmanovic(notes) (14 points, 12 boards, 4 steals) also playing all 48 minutes.
• The nightmare continues for the Nets, who fell to 0-14 in a game decided early against the Nuggets. Brook Lopez(notes) played through an ankle injury but was largely ineffective (5 points, 1-of-5 shooting, 5 fouls), Devin Harris(notes) had 19 points but was just 4-of-14 from the field, and Chris Douglas-Roberts(notes) came back to earth via a four-point performance on 1-of-6 shooting.
• Remember that early-season panic that arose after a few games of poor shooting from the field from Kevin Durant(notes)? It seems as though he's settled in just fine. His averages over the past 11 games include 28.5 points on 49-percent shooting, 1.2 threes, 6.4 boards, 3.3 assists, 1.7 steals, and 0.8 blocks.
• Another horrific night on offense for Chris Duhon(notes) (4 points, 2-of-9 shooting). Over his past nine games, he's averaged just 4.2 points on 19-percent (!) shooting and made just five of 30 attempts from three (17%). Perhaps Nate Robinson(notes) will play his way into the starting point guard role - the team could sure use some kind of spark. Over the past two games, Nate has averaged 17 points, 3.5 threes, and 3 assists in 27 minutes.
The longer Hamilton (sprained right ankle) and Prince (small ruptured disc) are out -- and Prince seems the closer to returning, but at least another week -- the more you see how valuable they are.
• Tyrus Thomas(notes) is at least another two weeks away from returning from a broken left forearm. Taj Gibson(notes) and Brad Miller(notes) haven't stepped up in his absence, but Joakim Noah(notes) sure has. Over the past eight games, Noah has averaged 12.9 points on 57-percent shooting, 13.1 boards, 2.8 assists, 0.8 steals, and 1.6 blocks.