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Tuesday April 17, 2012 5:29 PM

News And Notes

Rockets ready themselves for I-45 showdown with Dallas Mavericks

Jason Friedman
Rockets.com




HOUSTON - This time of year is typically tough for teams across the NBA and the Rockets are no exception. The grind of the season takes its toll as players fight through various bumps and bruises in an effort to make their respective pushes for the playoffs, and this year’s compressed schedule has only heightened that effect.

Houston’s walking wounded list is substantial these days, with Kyle Lowry still working hard to return to form after missing a month due to a bacterial infection and Kevin Martin having missed the team’s past 19 games as a result of an injury to his right shoulder. Marcus Camby, meanwhile, missed Monday night’s game against Denver due to a sore back and today Samuel Dalembert succumbed to a somewhat similar fate. Dalembert tweaked his back during Tuesday’s light practice prior to the team’s flight to Dallas and quickly joined Camby in the training room for treatment.

“It was a spasm,” said Dalembert. “It had been tight so I’d been taking care of it. But I just made a move today at practice and it just kind of tightened up on me.

“We’ll see tomorrow,” he said, when asked about his availability for Wednesday’s game against the Mavericks. “I have to see how I feel. You know me, I always play hurt so it just it what it is and you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

Both Dalembert and Camby, then, will be game-time decisions for tomorrow’s I-45 showdown. Patrick Patterson would likely start at center if neither is able to play.

Martin, meanwhile, looks to be inching closer to a return to action. He was in uniform for Monday’s game but did not see any action -- no surprise given that he has not been able to practice with the team since aggravating his shoulder injury March 11. But he says his shoulder is now feeling more soreness rather than pain, opening up what he called a “possibility” that he might be able to participate in the club’s upcoming two-game road trip to Dallas and New Orleans.

“I feel like I’m getting better,” he said. “Me and Coach, we’ll talk about the best thing for the team and see how tomorrow and at New Orleans go and we’ll take it day by day.

“I think it’s just about mostly the feel for the game. There’s going to be a couple loose balls that might slip out of your hands and things like that. But conditioning-wise, I’ve been doing a lot of stuff the past three weeks so I think I’m ready in that aspect. I’ve got to try my best to get out there for them. Hopefully we can get back on the right track and get into the playoffs.”

To that end, the Rockets know they must bounce back from their latest heartbreaking defeat and that there’s no better way to do so than to find a way to escape Dallas with a win. As much as this four-game losing streak has removed the Rockets’ margin for error, the team is still largely in control of its playoff destiny. Knock off the Mavericks tomorrow and suddenly the team’s postseason prospects would go from doom and gloom to hopeful in a hurry.
“Bottom line, we have to win tomorrow night,” said Rockets Head Coach Kevin McHale. “I thought we played better last night and had better energy than we had the last couple of games.

“Teams are still playing us the same way: they’re going to pack the paint and we’re going to have to make shots. We had 29 3s last night, which is a lot of 3s for us, but those were the looks we had. We’re going to have to shoot the ball and shoot it well.”

Added Chandler Parsons: “We’ve proved that we can beat anybody anywhere. We just can’t be inconsistent. We’ve got to keep playing and find ways to win games, especially on the road and especially this late in the season with everything on the line.”

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