Despite injuries to two of their best players, the Houston Rockets have lost consecutive games only once in 2009-10. With their next game coming against the woeful New Jersey Nets, that’s unlikely to change this weekend.
The Rockets look to rebound from their first loss in a week and continue their recent dominance of the Nets, who enter Saturday night’s home game hoping to avoid a ninth straight loss.
Though Yao Ming(notes) is out for the season and Tracy McGrady(notes) is slowly making his way back from microfracture knee surgery, Houston (17-12) has remained competitive, suffering its only back-to-back defeats Nov. 25 and 27 against Dallas and San Antonio, respectively.
The Rockets had won three straight entering Wednesday night, but shot 39.0 percent from the field in a 102-87 loss at Orlando. However, they appear to have a good chance to avoid consecutive defeats Saturday, given their recent history against the Nets and New Jersey’s miserable start to the season.
The Nets (2-27) are the first team to lose 27 of their first 29 games since New Orleans in 2004-05. In a matchup between teams with the worst records in the league, New Jersey fell 103-99 at home against Minnesota on Wednesday night for its eighth loss in a row.
The Nets have dropped nine of 10 against the Rockets, including six straight and two last season by an average of 24.5 points. New Jersey has lost its last six home games against Houston.
Devin Harris(notes) led the Nets on Wednesday with 23 points and eight assists, but he’s averaged 10.0 points and 2.7 assists while shooting 28.1 percent in three games against the Rockets since being traded to New Jersey in February 2008.
The Nets did get some encouraging news with the return of Yi Jianlian(notes) to the lineup Wednesday. Playing for the first time since injuring his right knee Nov. 2, the 7-foot forward had 22 points and eight rebounds while going 7 for 12 from the field and 4 for 6 from 3-point range against the Wolves.
“Yi was spectacular,” guard Keyon Dooling(notes) told the Nets’ official Web site. “He’s going to be able to come into his own. He’s had some hardships. With high expectations, sometimes it takes that. It takes the young players, two, three, sometimes four years to get that, find their game. And I think he’s on the right path.”
McGrady’s recent return to the Rockets’ lineup hasn’t been as impressive. He’s averaged 3.2 points and 7.8 minutes in six games while working back into game shape.
“I just try to play my role with the little cameos that I make. It is what it is,” said McGrady, a seven-time All-Star. “Obviously (the coaches) are looking out for my best interest. They are trying to monitor my minutes. At the same time, I feel like it is time to really increase them and I think that is what is going to happen over the next couple of games.”