Around the Rim: Eyeing a comeback


1. Rockets taking off without McGrady
The Rockets are finally getting used to playing without Tracy McGrady. In fact, Houston won their third consecutive game by beating Washing 92-84 on Tuesday night. Unfortunately, T-Mac might be back in uniform for Friday’s game at home against the Timberwolves after being sidelined since Dec. 23. Hopefully for Houstonians, McGrady adds to the team’s current success instead of devolving the chemistry. Led by Luther Head’s 24 points, three Rockets reached double-figures against the Wiz, including Yao Ming who finished with 21 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots. With the win, Houston (18-17) jumped above .500 for the first time since being 12-11 almost a month ago.

2. Are you Kidding?

Jason Kidd racking up a triple-double is nothing new, but do it three games in a row and, now, we’ve got something to talk about. On Tuesday, Kidd became the first player since Grant Hill to record a triple-dip in a trio of consecutive games by scoring 13 points, grabbing 11 boards and passing out 12 assists against the Bobcats. And if Kidd hadn’t come up two assists shy in a game against Orlando, he would be looking at four straight triple-doubles. The last person to do that was, you guessed it, Michael Jordan who had seven consecutive way, way back in 1989. Oh, and if you care about things like team play and scores then you might be interested to know that Charlotte defeated the Nets quite easily, 115-99.

3. Fancy meeting you here
LeBron James didn’t have to go pro. Kevin Durant didn’t need to go to college. But regardless of their individual paths, the two superstars (one established and one in the making) met on the hardwood for the first time Tuesday night. Durant played one of the best contests of his rookie campaign, scoring a game-high 24 points on 10-of-20 shooting and grabbed six rebounds before spraining his ankle late in the game. Despite the early exit, Durant won the one-on-one offensive battle against LBJ, but his team lost the war with the Cavs. James finished with 22 points and Cleveland cruised to a 95-79 home victory.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Dwight Howard @ Sacramento 38 min, 29 pts (FG: 11-13, FT: 7-8), 15 reb, 1 ast, 2 stl, 1 blk

Wednesday’s Game to Watch: Detroit (26-8) @ Dallas (23-11)
The Pistons have been off since Saturday and in that time, you know the Bad Boys have been stewing over their loss to East’s glitzy favorites, the Beantown Celtics. Unfortunately for the Mavericks, they’re next in line and the Pistons are dying to get back to their winning ways. Before the loss to Boston, Detroit won 11 consecutive games and 18 out of 20, but Dallas is finally catching fire as well. After bouncing back and forth between wins and losses, Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs seem to have found some consistency, winning four straight and nine of their previous 11 contests. Since scoring a season-low seven points against New Orleans on Dec. 14, Nowitzki has topped 19 points in the last ten games, scoring 30 or more four times.

Buzzer Beater: Losing to the Minnesota Timberwolves is pretty much the lowest of low, even for the lowly Miami Heat. But that is exactly what happened on Tuesday when the T-Wolves picked up their fifth win of the season by spanking the Shaqless Heat 101-91. After the game, Dwyane Wade made the understatement of the year.

We’re not exactly 28-5 this year,” Wade said of his 8-27 Heat, who have the worst record in the Eastern Conference. “We’re one of the worst teams in the league as well.

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