“Strained right knee” is a mysterious term even for medical experts, and certainly so for the average, Houston Rockets-loving person. But that’s about all Dwight Howard’s franchise has revealed about his extended absence, which has now reached nine games.
When asked about the All-Star’s status, coach Kevin McHale shed at least a little light when he said D12’s return was still a long ways off. Here’s Houston Chronicle beat writer Jonathan Feigen with the word:
“While discussing Pat Beverley’s return from a strained left hamstring, Rockets coach Kevin McHale said ‘It would be nice to get everybody else back, but that won’t be happening any time soon.’
"McHale had previously said he hoped that Howard, who has been out since Nov. 19, might be ready to return in time to play on the Rockets’ road trip Wednesday and Thursday to play Golden State and Sacramento. Asked if he had a better feel for Howard’s timetable, he said again, ‘He won’t be back anytime soon.’
"‘He will not be coming back any time soon, either,’ McHale said. ‘You might as well ask me about the weather next week. I have no idea. Partly cloudy, baby.’”
The Rockets have performed admirably without Howard, going 7-2 since he’s been gone. When we consider that Beverley’s also been out of action for much of the year — and Terrence Jones, too — the Rockets’ recent run becomes almost unbelievable. They’re the No. 2 team in a historically difficult Western Conference, and they’re doing it largely without three starters.
It’s high time James Harden — once beloved, now an elite NBA heel — gets a tip of the hat, along with McHale. Those two have led a crew of forgotten, overlooked talent (including Donatas Motiejunas, Jason Terry, Trevor Ariza, Isaiah Canaan and rookie Tarik Black) into one of the best records in the league at 16-4, and they should be getting more attention for MVP and Coach of the Year considerations, respectively.
— John Wilmes