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Rockets Playoffs Hopes Disappearing During Absence Of Lowry And Martin

By TERRANCE HARRIS, SportsRadio 610
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(credit: Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)

(credit: Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)

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HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – The Rockets have solidified their front court with the addition of Marcus Camby and subtraction of Jordan Hill.

Now comes the difficult and most troublesome part, which is fixing the backcourt that is missing starters and leaders Kevin Martin and point guard Kyle Lowry. Making the matter worse is no one seems the answer of when either will be healthy of enough to return to action, and most important when they will be healthy enough to be back there together.

Without those two it’s hard to imagine the Rockets will be able to hold on to their losing grip for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoff race. The Rockets are barely holding on and are likely to be overtaken by surging Utah and Phoenix for the final spot if they don’t turn things around during this stretch where they play six of their next seven games at Toyota Center.

“We’ve just got to go out there and make do,” said Rockets coach Kevin McHale, whose team is 24-22. “Everybody has some issues throughout the entire league and there are times when adversity strikes and you’ve just got to go out there and play.”

Lowry has been out the last two weeks with a bacterial infection and the hope is he can return within the next couple of weeks. Martin, the Rockets leading scorer, has missed the last four games with a right shoulder injury that has really bothered him the last month.

Martin, however, went through a rigorous workout Monday for the first time in a week but there is still no indication if he will be available for Tuesday night’s home game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

“It’s been going on for about a month so we just wanted to get it back right during this stretch,” said Martin, who had began to slump in his shooting and scorer prior to shutting it down last week. “It’s killing me not to be out there with the team but it’s best for the team to get this right.”

What’s hurting the most is not having Lowry out there and right now not having a backup for Goran Dragic, who has handled the point guard duties after playing backup all season. The Rockets were hopeful veteran point guard Derek Fisher could fill the void until Lowry was back healthy when they made the trade Thursday that sent Hill to the Lakers for Fisher and a first round draft pick.

Fisher, of course, decided he didn’t want to come so he forced a buyout of his contract over the weekend. That forced the Rockets to scramble to find a serviceable backup, which D-Leaguer Courtney Fortson may be, but until he is up to speed McHale and his staff are struggling to find bodies to take up the backup point guard minutes.

Shooting guard Courtney Lee is the only real option to take up some of the point guard minutes after the team also trade Jonny Flynn to Portland last week after it believed it had made the deal for Fisher. That then creates a ripple effect because rookie small forward Chandler Parson may have to slide to shooting guard in those instances with Martin still on the mend.

So right now, the Rockets point guard situation is in disarray with a critical part of the schedule coming up that includes home games this week against the Lakers, Golden State and Dallas.

“It’s not going to be ideal,” McHale said about the point guard dilemma. “It’s always nice when you have guys who are comfortable with what you are doing, they know your system and everything else. But right now we are trying to get Courtney Fortson comfortable on the run.

“Every team in the league has got something you can point to right now that makes it hard. That’s why winning in our league is a very hard thing to do.  A lot of things don’t go in your favor and you’ve got to make them go in your favor and we are at that point right now.”

The Rockets lack of bodies and lack of depth certainly got the best of them during their two-game west coast swing over the weekend when they went 0-for-2 against the Los Angeles Clipper and Phoenix Suns. Not only were Lowry and Martin out Saturday against the Clippers, but Camby’s debut was delayed because all the players in the trade for Portland had not arrived yet.

Camby did play during the 99-86 loss to the Suns, but his presence alone was hardly enough to make a difference with the backcourt out of sync.

“When you are missing key components like Kyle and K-Mart, it makes the path a little bit difficult but guys have been circling the wagons, guys have been stepping up,” said Camby, who scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds in his debut on Sunday. “It seems like each game different guys are stepping up and taking over that leadership role so we are going to have to do this thing collectively.”

Contact Terrance Harris at terrancefharris@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @Terranceharris

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