HOUSTON (CBS Houston) — There was a bit of a surprise element to the Rockets practice on Thursday as they got set for a quick trip Los Angeles.
Starting point guard Kyle Lowry, who has been sidelined for the last 14 games with a bacterial infection, returned to practice for the first time in nearly a month with his teammates. Lowry didn’t go through a full practice but he did enough to give hope that he could return before the end of the season.
“It was fun. It was good to be out there,” Lowry said after Thursday’s workout at Toyota Center. “It’s huge from where I thought I was going to be a couple weeks ago. It’s always a work in progress everyday, just one step at a time. I’ll just go out there and see how I feel tomorrow and take it day by day.”
That is considerable progress since signs have been pointing to Lowry possibly being done for the season as he recovers from an illness that could have taken his life. Lowry has been coming around the team but he has clearly lost a lot of weight and a lot strength which all played into the belief that even if cleared to return to the practice floor that he might need a while to get back into game shape after missing so much time away.
But Lowry left Thursday with his teammates to head to Los Angeles where the Rockets will take on the Lakers on Friday. He is still a ways away from being ready to take the floor in a game.
“This process has gone faster than I believed it was going to happen. Like I said, I just have to take it day by day. We’ve got a long flight to Los Angeles and I’ve got to see how I feel when I walk off the plane and wake up tomorrow morning. I definitely have a better feeling about coming back this season.”
Before Lowry fell ill, he was having a career-type season averaging 15.9 points, 7.2 assists, 5.3 rebounds and shooting 38.8 from the field. The Rockets were in a fight for playoff positioning and remain in the hunt at No.8 in the Western Conference as the regular-season hits its final stretch.
The Rockets have gone 8-6 in Lowry’s absence with Goran Dragic stepping in playing well. But having Lowry back along with Kevin Martin (right shoulder strain) will only bolster the Rockets playoff chances.
There is still no word on a definite return on either Lowry or Martin, but Rockets coach Kevin McHale certainly seemed pleased to have Lowry back on the practice floor.
“Kyle looked pretty good,” said Rockets Head Coach Kevin McHale. “He moved OK. He did some of our up-and-down stuff, we didn’t do a ton of up-and-down today; we did more yesterday. So that’s probably what he needs more. Half-court is one thing, it’s tough to get your wind back, but he looked pretty good. We’ll see where it goes.”
In other point guard news, the Rockets extended the 10-day contract of veteran Earl Boykins another 10 days. The team also announced it is sending Courtney Fortson to the D-League Rio Grande Valley Vipers.