[Rockets]/- News

달려라티맥 2007. 12. 27. 20:31



Dec. 27, 2007, 1:08AM
T-Mac using caution
Rockets star doesn't want to return too fast from knee injury

Tracy McGrady's sore left knee might not be as damaged as he thought, but that does not mean he expects to be back on the court anytime soon.

Two days after an MRI showed no damage other than swollen tendons and McGrady's status was termed "day-to-day," McGrady on Wednesday predicted he would miss another week, a stretch that would put him out for three or four games at a time the Rockets (13-15) are losing contact with the top half of the Western Conference.

"Right now, I'm saying a week to see how I feel," McGrady said. "Come in here, get a couple practices, get up and down the court. Don't want to rush it because we don't want the same thing to happen again. We'll see."

McGrady, the Rockets' leader in points and assists per game, left at halftime of last Wednesday's loss to Orlando and missed the double-overtime loss to Denver the next night. He played Saturday in Chicago but left shortly after halftime the next night against Detroit after a flare-up of the knee pain following a dunk late in the first half.

Rockets trainer Keith Jones on Wednesday would not discuss a timetable for McGrady's return until meeting with the doctors, likely today.

"It's definitely a relief," McGrady said of the MRI results. "I thought I had something torn in there. That's not the case. It's just sprained. I'll probably be out a week. I don't really know. I can't really put a timetable on it. I know I'll miss the next few games.

"It's a sprain. I got some inflammation in there we got to get out."




Adelman willing to wait

The Rockets held out hope McGrady could return sooner than he predicted. But coach Rick Adelman said they might be better off getting him back when he is able to move and play at full strength, rather than with him continuing to be limited and going in and out of the rotation.

"So far, the tests they did looked fine," Adelman said. "He's got soreness in it. He's the only one who can tell us how he feels. We'll just have to see what happens from this point on. I just kind of look at it as a day-by-day thing. I'd much rather have him playing, but if it's better for him not to play, we just have to accept that.

"When he does play, it's a big lift for us. But he can't play like he's tried to. When it's bothering him, he can't move the way he wants to move. That doesn't help us at all. It's frustrating. You'd like to have him out on the floor. You'd like to have him playing. But if he's not going to play, you really need the other people to step up."

Without McGrady, the Rockets are 0-3 this season, 2-12 the past two seasons and 11-42 since he joined the Rockets for the 2004-05 season. McGrady has left three games with injuries this season — a sprained elbow, a sprained ankle and the sore left knee. But in the previous game McGrady missed, the Rockets took the Nuggets to two overtimes in Denver before losing on a last-second shot.

Heading to Memphis to face the Grizzlies on Friday in the first half of a back-to-back with Toronto at Toyota Center on Saturday, the Rockets have lost four of their past five games. They have lost six of eight since last winning consecutive games Dec. 5 and 7.

Their next three games, including the New Year's Eve game against Golden State, are against teams that have defeated the Rockets this season since their slide from the 6-1 start.

"It's a good opportunity to find ourselves," center Yao Ming said. "We can't keep going on like we are now. This is a good time to test us. We need to turn the season around. We're probably (playing) a little better but still not good enough if we want to be a good team in this league. Our record is 13-15. That says we're still struggling."



Back-to-back up next

Adelman and Rockets players have said they believe the team has improved. Though they face a Friday-Saturday back-to-back and have been terrible in back-to-backs (2-6 when playing a second game in as many nights), this week was supposed to be a chance to improve the record,as well.

Now they appear certain to try to do that without McGrady.

"We have to turn it up another level," guard Rafer Alston said. "With Tracy, we had to turn it up. Now, without him, we have to turn it up two notches. Most of us have been there before, missing one of our superstars if not both. I'm well prepared to go out there and do the job. I know these guys understand the position we put ourselves in."

Whether they would be better served to play with McGrady diminished by the injury or to give him the time needed for him to be back at full strength is unclear.

McGrady sounded ready to wait, a position that teammates endorsed.

"He's been in this league a long time," forward Shane Battier said. "He knows the length of the season and about knickknack injuries, especially early. We'd rather have him heal up and come back 100 percent.

"T-Mac on one knee isn't the best for him and isn't the best for our team. He needs to get right, and only he knows when he is ready to go full bore."

Still, McGrady's declaration Wednesday could have been considered a surprise, coming so soon after good MRI news. But by now, the Rockets have learned to assume nothing.