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Thursday December 30, 2010 5:39 PM

News And Notes

Hayes hurt, Rockets aim to finish 2010 on a winning note

Jason Friedman
Rockets.com

HOUSTON - Another day, another ankle injury.

In a season that has seen the Houston Rockets besieged by a bizarre rash of ankle issues, the club fell victim to one more Thursday afternoon at the tail end of practice.

This time the casualty was Chuck Hayes, who landed on a teammates’ foot, painfully rolling his right ankle in the process. The 6th-year forward had to be carried off the floor and he was immediately taken for an X-ray and MRI which revealed a moderate to severe sprain – an injury expected to sideline him 2-to-4 weeks before he’s able to resume regular basketball activities.

“(It happened) right at the end of the practice,” said Rockets Head Coach Rick Adelman. “We were just going over Toronto stuff. It’s just one of those things. I was just getting ready to stop practice. It happened so quickly I haven’t really thought about what we’re going to do. But he’s a guy who, you’ve seen him at the end of games, you put him on a guy and you don’t have to worry about him. That’s going to be a real difference for us.

“He’s our best defender inside. It’s going to affect our whole rotation.”

With Hayes on the shelf, the Rockets now need fellow bigs Jordan Hill, Patrick Patterson and Jared Jeffries to step up and help the club overcome his absence. No one player can replace the defensive acumen, intelligence and versatility Hayes brings to the table, which is why it’s so imperative for each of the aforementioned forwards to raise his level of play in the interim.

Their first test comes against a Toronto Raptors team fresh off an upset win over the red-hot Dallas Mavericks. In other words, Houston should be in no danger of overlooking the struggling Raptors, especially after having already fallen victim to Toronto in mid-November.

“There’s no reason why we can’t bounce back and show maturity,” said Shane Battier. “It will speak volumes to see how mature we are (based on) how we play tomorrow.”

Added Adelman: “They’re a very good offensive rebounding team and their perimeter people have become real factors as Dallas found out. That’s how it is in this league: a team that’s hurt and kind of down, they can snap out and beat you and we should know that more than anybody else. We’ve got to get ourselves ready to play and respond after losing last night.”

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