Monday , Feb , 26 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Rockets continue strong play without Yao

(Sports Network) – The Houston Rockets (35-20) are a distant 11 games behind
the first place Dallas Mavericks in the Southwest Division. However, they are
the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference playoff race, four games ahead of the
sixth-seeded Los Angeles Lakers.

The Boston Celtics nightmarish season continues on Monday, as they visit the
Rockets at the Toyota Center. It is the first of two meetings between the
clubs this season. The Celtics are scheduled to host the Rockets on March 7th
at TD Banknorth Garden.

Boston has lost nine of its last 14 at Houston. The teams have split the last
six contests in the series.

Houston plays the first of a short two-game homestand against the Celtics.
All-Star Tracy McGrady scored 34 points as the Rockets held off the Orlando
Magic, 97-93, on Sunday at TD Waterhouse Centre.

Rafer Alston had 20 points in the win over Orlando for the Rockets, who have
beaten the Magic in eight of the last nine meetings in the series. Luther Head
scored 15 and Shane Battier tallied 14 points for Houston, which has won six
of its last nine games overall.

The Rockets continue to play without All-Star center Yao Ming, who leads the
Rockets in scoring (25.9 ppg) and rebounding (9.4 rpg). He suffered a non
displaced fracture in a bone under his right knee during a 98-93 loss on
December 23rd to the Los Angeles Clippers. Houston is 19-9 without Yao, who is
expected to return in mid-to-late March.

Houston is an impressive 20-7 at home this season. The Rockets are scheduled
to host the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday. It will be the first of two meetings
between the clubs this season. Toronto will host the Rockets on March 16th at
Air Canada Centre.

McGrady has been excellent while Yao has been sidelined with his injury. The
6-8 McGrady is averaging 24.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and a team-best 6.1 assists
this season. He has scored more than 30 points in three straight games and has
posted 27.7 points per contest in his last 10 outings.