Record Since Last Recap: 5-1 MVP Since Last Recap: Donatas Montejunas Best Win Last 2 Weeks: vs. Grizzlies Toughest Loss Last 2 Weeks: vs. Clippers Current Record: 16-4 Next Five: at Warriors, at Kings, vs. Nuggets, at Nuggets, vs Pelicans
No matter what comes of this season for the Rockets, the first month plus has been remarkable. They have literally lost what constitutes an entire starting lineup to injury, forcing them into using different starters reaching double digits. Yet, they are an incredible 16-4.
But, here's the brutal reality of the NBA's Western Conference. That record places them fourth in the conference, just two games out of first place and yet only six games ahead of tenth placed New Orleans, which is 10-10. This is contrasted with the East, where three teams under .500 are in the top eight. In the wild West, 10 teams are at or above the mediocre mark and one of those below it is the injury-ravaged Oklahoma City Thunder, a team that is just now getting back their missing players.
Conference realignment anyone?
That is a discussion for another day, but speaking of injuries, the Rockets, along with the Thunder and Raptors, are perhaps the NBA teams most in need of some Obamacare. At the moment, the Rockets have an injury list that includes four starters and their two best players. While one has returned and another is fighting through it, the injury situation can best be described as gimpy and perhaps contagious considering the news about Texans linebacker Jadeveon Clowney. Here's a breakdown.
Terrence Jones Injury: Nerve Issue Games Missed: 16 Projected Return: No Timetable
Since the Rockets starting four suffered nerve damage in his leg, his progress has been slow. The Rockets have set no timetable for his return, but best guess would be mid season. Jones appeared to have a good start to the season. Donatas Montejnas has filled in admirably and may have even earned starters minutes upon Jones's return, but they need the depth and athleticism Jones can provide.
Patrick Beverley Injury: Hamstring Games Missed: 12 Projected Return: Played against Phoenix, but remains day-to-day.
Beverley returned against the Suns and led the Rockets in scoring. His three point shot, which has improved dramatically since last season, remains a ridiculous 49 percent. They are going to need him, particularly on the defensive end moving forward.
Dwight Howard Injury: Knee Games Missed: 10 Projected Return: Soon
The Rockets other all star has shown improvement in recent days. While Coach Kevin McHale wouldn't say Howard would play against Golden State Wednesday, he didn't rule it out either. He is looking better in practice, but it is doubtful he'd play both nights of a back-to-back to start this West Coast swing. Isaiah Canaan Injury: Games Missed: 4 Projected Return: A couple weeks
Adding insult to the already mounting injuries, Canaan, the seemingly capable young backup point guard who was thrust into the starters role when Beverley went down, injured his ankle. It doesn't appear to be serious and he could make his return in the next week or two.
Kostas Papanikolaou Injury:Knee strain Games Missed: 1 Projected Return: About 2 weeks
The Rockets rookie breathed a sigh of relief -- along with Rockets fans -- when his injured knee turned out to be a sprain that should only cost him a couple weeks. He's young and should bounce back. The sooner the better.
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Francisco Garcia Injury: Calf strain Games Missed: Zero Projected Return: Day-to-day
Garcia has been ruled as questionable for Wednesday night after suffering a calf strain in the last game. He has provided value as a role player off the bench and a leader in the locker room. If they don't need him, chances are the Rockets will let him take a game or two off to heal.
James Harden Injury: Back Games Missed: Zero Projected Return: Day-to-day
Harden, the one guy the Rockets absolutely cannot afford to lose, has been struggling with a sore back and is questionable for the Golden State game. He said on Tuesday that it was still stiff, but the team will reevaluate before the game Wednesday.