While the Houston Rockets must wait for the return of Yao Ming, one of the team's former superstars will be back on the Toyota Center court Tuesday night.
Tracy McGrady, now serving a limited role for the Detroit Pistons, will play his first game in Houston since the Rockets traded him away last season following five-plus up-and-down years with the club.
McGrady averaged 23.1 points during his first five seasons with the Rockets, helping Houston to four 50-win campaigns.
The Rockets' only playoff series win in that stretch came with McGrady injured, though, and the banged-up swingman played in just six games last season before he was traded -- at his request -- to New York on Feb. 18.
"It has definitely been the most profound part of my career," McGrady said in a statement at the time. "I've learned a lot about myself from various situations, both good and bad that have occurred here. It was my hope when I came to Houston that I wouldn't leave, but I do understand this is the business side of basketball."
It's unclear how he will be received by Houston's fans.
"There will be some cheers," former teammate Chuck Hayes told the Rockets' official website. "He was the leader of this team. He did carry this team up until his last year and a half or so. It was unfortunate that his last (impression) here was a bad one, but when he first got here and was healthy, he was a bad boy."
McGrady, who signed with Detroit (7-14) over the summer, is averaging 16 minutes and 3.8 points off the bench for the rebuilding Pistons.
The Rockets (7-13) are also struggling. Although they had hoped to get Yao back Tuesday from a 13-game absence due to an ankle injury, the 7-foot-6 center is not ready to return.
"It's not strong enough," Yao said. "There's no damage there, it's just not strong enough to support me running up (and down the court) and jumping. They made the decision based on that. We haven't talked about (a timetable) yet."
Houston, which has also been without injured point guard Aaron Brooks (ankle) since Nov. 6, lost 119-116 in overtime at Chicago on Saturday despite 27 points from Luis Scola.
Coach Rick Adelman's team has won its last three at home after opening 1-4 at the Toyota Center. Kevin Martin has averaged 23.3 points during the home streak, which featured a 109-99 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.
Facing the Pistons should present a good opportunity for another victory. Detroit has dropped nine of its 11 road games, including the last five.
The Pistons snapped a four-game overall skid with a 102-92 win over Cleveland on Sunday, thanks in part to the second-half success of a three-guard lineup implemented by coach John Kuester.
With Ben Gordon playing alongside fellow guards Richard Hamilton and Rodney Stuckey, the Pistons scored 51 points -- 16 from Hamilton -- in the final 24 minutes after averaging 36.0 points in the second half during their losing streak.
"(The Cavaliers) had done some nice things against us in the first half, so I thought it was an adjustment we could make," Kuester said. "It worked very well."
The Pistons have averaged 89.8 points while losing their last four visits to Houston.