The Rockets at home beat 94-82 the worst team in the league, the 11-42 Sacramento Kings, which isn’t always a certainty these days, even against a team that has now lost 14 of its last 15 games. We all pretty much knew a victory was going to happen, especially when we learned before the game that Tracy McGrady would not be playing.
Yao Ming throws one down against Sacramento on the way to 24 points and 18 rebounds in a victory. Click here for more photos from the game.
The worst case scenario would have been for McGrady to pull out of mothballs a decent game, then lots of people feeling good headed into the All-Star break and the February 19th trading deadline looming that the Rockets might be able to make this thing work with him in the lineup. That could make them hesitant to do a trade with everyone hoping that maybe he can finally get it going after the All-Star break, and that trading him would be premature.
Lo and behold, though, that didn’t happen! More drama unfolded Wednesday when a Houston television station broke a story that McGrady may be out for the season after an MRI was done on his left knee.
But then later the Rockets announced that McGrady’s knee is still the same, which means according to previous reports over the past few months, it’s okay for him to play on it and that it would only get better if he used it.
Then more drama unfolded when McGrady held a halftime press conference (who has ever heard of that?) where he said the most asinine thing anyone could ever say about his knee: “Well, it’s because it didn’t get any better prior to surgery and post-surgery.” So the surgeon who worked on his knee basically went into his knee and did nothing, huh? Click here for Raymond’s transcript of the interview.
It’s obvious from McGrady’s statements that he’s not being truthful, he’s trying to save face somehow and blame it on his knee, which he had said countless times before wasn’t a problem, and his issues were due to other things, like his conditioning or whatever.
Now all of a sudden he says he’s had pain in his knee and it hasn’t gotten better. This flip-flopping no doubt must have an effect on the respect he gets from teammates in the locker room, and is a complete distraction. On top of that, the Rockets’ 12-6 record when he does NOT play makes the case he’s even more expendable.
The main injury that McGrady has is between his ears. He’s a head case and needs to be shipped out of town ASAP. Like I mentioned before, by him not playing Wednesday night, that prevented any last-minute “feel good” that could have come through a decent performance he MIGHT have had
His absence Wednesday in the lineup also shows the Rockets can play good basketball immediately when he’s out, without having to make too much of an adjustment, and that a strong playoff run without him is not just possible, but more likely.
His shenanigans have GOT to make the front office feel like they are being played like fools, and the relationship and trust with him is beyond repair. The team probably won’t admit it because they want him to retain as much trade value as possible, but it was McGrady who made the decision Wednesday NOT to play, not the team. If they were to admit that, then it would be an admission than an inmate is running the asylum.
I’m wondering if the Rockets can use the Knicks one more time to dump a bad contract (like Maurice Taylor, Moochie Norris, am I missing anyone else?). Maybe get another head case — Stephon Marbury — for McGrady? Would you do that deal if you were the Rockets?
Meanwhile, the Rockets head into the All-Star break feeling good they took care of business against the Kings. Yao scored 24 points and had 18 boards. Alston had 13 assists. Luis Scola had 19 points and 11 rebounds. Artest had 19 points. The defense limited the Kings to 10 second quarter points, a season-low for the Rockets’ defense.
However, on the bad side, they turned the ball over a season-high 22 times, they trailed 34-30 with 5 minutes left in the 2nd quarter — unbelievable against a team like Sacramento — and it wasn’t until the 3rd quarter that they started to pull away. Von Wafer also went 0-for-6 from the field, but hopefully that’s just because he’s a little rusty from McGrady having taken his valuable playing time when the Rockets still thought there was hope with the latter.
Since it’s late and the Rockets won’t be playing for almost another week, I plan to watch my recording of Wednesday night’s game on Thursday and provide more analysis Thursday night, time permitting. I just thought it was more important tonight to report the big story — the McGrady saga — because it’s going to be interesting to watch how this thing unfolds over the coming days.