Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 1/10

Game 1: Saturday, January 10th
Game 2: Monday, January 26th

Rockets 98

(28-18, 13-13 away)

Knicks 104

(19-25, 13-9 home)

    Coverage: MSG

    7:30 PM ET, January 26, 2009

    Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

    1 2 3 4 T
    HOU 23 35 22 1898
    NY 29 26 19 30104

    Top Performers

    Hou: L. Scola 16 Pts, 14 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl

    NY: C. Duhon 12 Pts, 6 Reb, 11 Ast, 1 Stl

    Rockets-Knicks Preview


    The Houston Rockets are a little closer to full strength, and they might need all their players against the surprising New York Knicks.

    After getting Tracy McGrady and Ron Artest back in their previous game, the Rockets (28-17) now await Yao Ming's return, which could come as soon as Monday at New York (18-25).

    In Sunday's 108-105 win at Detroit, Artest ended a seven-game absence due to an injured right ankle and scored a team-leading 24 points, including three free throws in the final 14 seconds. McGrady returned from a sore left knee that kept him out for six straight games and added 15.

    Yao, however, sat out with a sore right knee -- suffered in Friday's 107-102 loss at Indiana. His status for Monday's game isn't known, but the 7-foot-6 center said X-rays showed "no cracks."

    "He was hoping to play, but it's still a little bit sore and it's bothering him," Houston coach Rick Adelman said. "So, there's no reason to push him at this point. ... We'll see how he feels (Monday)."

    McGrady has missed a combined 16 games this season, while Artest has sat out 13. Houston is 15-7 with the three starters playing this season, but they haven't all played together since Jan. 2.

    Playing without Yao for just the second time this season, the Rockets nearly blew a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter, allowing the Pistons to get within two with 23 seconds left before Artest's free throws.

    "We got stagnant in the second half," said Adelman, whose team is 7-2 in its last nine. "In that situation, we usually go to Yao, and we needed to find a way to do something different with him not in the game."

    If one or more of those Rockets' players can't go, Houston might need another strong performance from Luis Scola, who started at center against Detroit.

    The Rockets swingman followed up a season-high 25 points in Friday's loss with 21 on 9-of-11 shooting Sunday. Scola, who is scoring 12.1 points per game this season, has averaged 20.9 points over the last four games.

    Houston has eight straight wins over New York, including a 96-76 home victory on Jan. 10 in which Yao played and McGrady and Artest sat out. The Rockets have also won five in a row at Madison Square Garden, where they haven't lost since Feb 25, 2003.

    However, the Knicks enter Monday with three wins in their last four games, and are 5-1 in their past six at home.

    New York narrowly missed out on its first four-game winning streak in more than three years, falling 116-110 on Saturday in Philadelphia. The Knicks were within two with 10 seconds left before the 76ers pulled away.

    "We tried to fight back," forward Tim Thomas said. "I guess trying to catch up was a little bit too much. We were right there, though."

    David Lee recorded his seventh straight double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds Saturday, giving him 32 this season. He trails Orlando's Dwight Howard by one for the league lead. Lee has averaged 21.3 points and 13.3 rebounds over the last three games.

    Nate Robinson, who scored a team-leading 26 points Saturday, is averaging 20.7 points over the last three contests.