The Houston Rockets may be undermanned, but their coach won’t accept that as an excuse.
With leading scorer Tracy McGrady out at least one more game due to back spasms and starting center Yao Ming sidelined the next several weeks after toe surgery, the Rockets hope to beat the odds and the Sacramento Kings.
“These (other) guys are professional guys and they’re all professional basketball players so we should expect to play well and play hard,” Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said.
Tuesday night at Charlotte, the Rockets took the Bobcats to double overtime before losing 111-106. Juwan Howard led Houston with 28 points and 12 rebounds, but fouled out in the second overtime. David Wesley added 26 points in 56 minutes.
“We have an All-Star team on our bench, but the more we dwell on that, we lose focus on what the healthy guys have to do,” Wesley said.
The loss dropped the Rockets to 0-9 this season without McGrady and 3-11 since Yao’s surgery. McGrady will be re-evaluated Friday.
Rookie guard Luther Head scored 17 points Tuesday, giving him 33 in his last two games. Van Gundy said the Rockets are counting on Head—the 24th overall pick—to step up with the team short-handed.
“This may be his best chance at carving out a career for himself in the NBA,” Van Gundy said.
The Kings are also enduring a disappointing season. Their 13-20 record is their worst through 33 games since the 1993-94 season, when they started 11-22 en route to a 28-54 finish. Sacramento has never finished with a losing record under Adelman.
The Kings have dropped two straight games and eight of 11 after a 99-85 defeat Tuesday night at Memphis. The Grizzlies’ Mike Miller had 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in the first triple-double by an NBA player off the bench since April, 1998. Adelman blamed Sacramento’s defense for giving Miller to many open shots.
“We left him when we weren’t supposed to leave him,” Adelman said. “We got off him when we weren’t supposed to get off him. The things we were not going to do, we did.”
Defense has been a problem for the Kings recently. Sacramento is allowing 108.8 points per game in its last five contests, and seven of its last nine opponents have scored 100 or more.
Mike Bibby led the Kings Tuesday with 26 points and eight assists, bouncing back from a two-point effort on 1-for-10 shooting in Sunday’s loss to Indiana. Bibby had a team-high 24 points in Sacramento’s last meeting with Houston, a 106-95 loss Dec. 8 at ARCO Arena.
The Rockets have won both of their meetings with the Kings this season, and the last three overall. Sacramento last defeated the Rockets on Jan. 28, 2005 at Houston, 117-111 in overtime.