Houston (18-17) at New York (9-24)

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  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Wed Jan 9, 2008
  • TV: MSG
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Houston Rockets have been able to hold their own with Tracy McGrady sidelined of late.

Though they might have a better idea of his return date later in the week, the Rockets will try for a season-high fourth straight victory as they look to beat the lowly New York Knicks for the second time in five days Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Houston (18-17) won 92-84 at Washington on Tuesday to improve to 5-2 since McGrady—the team’s leading scorer at 22.8 points per game—was forced to sit due to strained tendons, tendinitis and a bone bruise in his left knee.

McGrady is expected to see the Rockets’ medical staff Thursday to determine when he can return.

“We certainly are missing him,” Houston coach Rick Adelman said. “But it’s important that he’s healthy when he does start playing.

“I’d love to see him come back on Friday (versus Minnesota), but it’s really going to be up to the medical people.”

Tuesday, though, the Rockets continued to play well without McGrady as they held Washington to 41.1 percent shooting and compiled a 46-28 rebounding edge.

Luther Head scored a career-high 24 points on 8-for-13 shooting, Yao Ming had 21 and Rafer Alston added 15, 10 assists and seven rebounds for Houston, which has won six of its last nine contests and back-to-back games on the road.

“We’ve been down this road before. We’re prepared. Guys aren’t hesitant now, like previous years when Tracy was out,” Alston said. “Guys are coming in confident, understanding they have to be aggressive and attack the basket.”

One of the them is Head, who averages 7.3 points on the season, and 14.0 in his last four games since entering the starting lineup.

Head was one of five Rockets to score in double figures in a 103-91 home win over New York on Saturday. Yao, who is averaging 25.6 points during his team’s winning streak, had 30 and matched a season high with six assists in that contest as the Rockets beat the Knicks for the sixth straight time.

Houston, which can reach the .500 mark on the road with a win Wednesday, looks for its fifth consecutive win over New York at MSG.

The Knicks (9-24), meanwhile, return home after a 105-100 win at Chicago on Tuesday snapped a seven-game losing streak. It was just the second road win for the Knicks, who have also lost three in a row at home.

A pair of former Bulls led the way for the Knicks on Tuesday.

Eddy Curry had a season-high 29 points, while Jamal Crawford had 24 for New York, which shot 50.6 percent and outscored Chicago 28-12 in the fourth quarter.

Curry, who had 16 points versus Houston on Saturday, has found his offensive game of late, averaging 23.5 points in his last four games after being pulled from the starting lineup for one contest late last month.

“Three things are going to happen when Eddy gets it,” New York coach Isiah Thomas said. “For us, we’re going to get a high percentage shot. He’s going to get us to the foul line, and hopefully, he won’t make a turnover when passing it out of the double team.”

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Wednesday, Jan 9