McGrady strained his back doing a reverse layup in practice Friday. Without him, Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy has searched for the right combination to generate points.
So far, he hasn’t had much luck.
The Rockets have blown fourth-quarter leads in back-to-back losses, and have shot 36 percent from the field since McGrady went down.
In Tuesday’s 76-74 setback to Orlando, Yao Ming led the Rockets with 17 points, but was just 6-of-15 from the field.
“We’re just not very good right now,” Houston guard Jon Barry said. “It’s disappointing because the easy thing to say is that Tracy’s not here. But we’re good enough. There’s no excuse.”
“We’re just struggling,” Van Gundy admitted. “Yao’s historically been a very high percentage shooter, Stromile’s not making and no one on the perimeter is making. That basically covers it. We’re struggling to make shots.”
Houston’s defense is still formidable, holding opponents below 40 percent shooting. The Hornets and Magic went a combined 60-for-155 from the field (38.7 percent) on Tuesday.
Making matters worse, the Rockets are opening a five-game road trip that includes visits to New Jersey, Boston, Minnesota and San Antonio.
Miami is also without one of its star players as center Shaquille O’Neal sprained his right ankle last Thursday hasn’t played since. He’s expected to miss 2-to-4 weeks.
O’Neal’s replacement, Alonzo Mourning, fouled out of Wednesday’s 95-90 loss to Indiana, finishing with eight points, seven rebounds and seven blocks.
Dwyane Wade led Miami with 29 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, but also tied a career high with 10 turnovers.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 9): Rockets - 5th place, 2 GB, Southwest Division. Heat - 2nd place (tied), 1 1/2 GB, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Rockets - McGrady, 23 ppg; Yao, 9.3 rpg; Alston, 5 apg. Heat - Wade, 24.5 ppg and 7.8 apg; Walker, 8 rpg.
2004-05 SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.
LAST MEETING: March 23; Rockets, 84-82. At Houston, McGrady scored 26 points as the Rockets snapped the Heat’s 12-game winning streak.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rockets - 0-0 on the road; Heat - 1-1 at home.