Injuries make it interesting for Rockets GM

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Tracy McGrady plays at far less than full speed. Yao Ming sits out a division game to rest his sore left foot.

These are the times when Daryl Morey is even more valuable to the Houston Rockets.

Through a smart combination of trades, drafts and free agent signings, the Rockets' general manager has put together a deep roster, essential for a team whose stars haven't been able to stay healthy.

"It's frustrating in that it takes you farther away from your goals," Morey said of the injuries. "But it's probably the most interesting part of the job, is make sure you manage your roster such that if you do take injuries or you do have issues, you're hedging that risk as much as possible."

The Rockets won 55 games, including 22 in a row, last season despite having McGrady and Yao on the floor together only 41 times. The injury woes quickly popped up less than a month into this season.

McGrady is still bothered after off-season knee surgery and missed nearly the entire second half of Monday's victory at Oklahoma City. The Rockets have gone all season without Shane Battier , who was joined on the bench Wednesday against Dallas by Yao.

Yet they went into the weekend leading the powerful Southwest Division, boosted by contributions from reserves such as Carl Landry , Aaron Brooks , Chuck Hayes and even free agent Van Wafer .

"Often it might have made a difference of one win in a year, but we feel like the hard work that went into scouting and finding those players, one win is a big difference," Morey said. "One more win for us last year and we would have been a higher seed and had an easier first-round matchup."

NO REGRETS: The day before he was in the news for a different type of transaction, Mark Cuban said he doesn't regret one of his basketball deals.

The acquisition of Jason Kidd couldn't get the Dallas Mavericks out of the first round of the playoffs last season, and they got off to a poor start to this one, but Cuban said his point guard isn't to blame.

"Jason Kidd's been our best player so far," the owner said. " I can't speak highly enough of him, so it's been a win-win trade."

The Mavericks acquired Kidd from New Jersey last February, giving up Devin Harris along with three other players, two first-round draft picks and cash. It appeared the Mavs had given up too much after they managed only the No. 7 seed and lost to New Orleans in the first round, with Kidd badly outplayed by Chris Paul .

Kidd has played fine this season, but Dallas lost seven of its first nine games. Meanwhile, Harris got off to a terrific start to his fifth season for New Jersey, averaging 23 points with three 30-point games in his first seven outings.

On Monday, Cuban was charged with insider trading by the Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly using confidential information on a stock sale to avoid more than $750,000 in losses.

OLD SCHOOL: Later this season, Chicago will play against Chicago in Washington.

That's the way it will appear from the uniforms, anyway.

As part of the Wizards' 45th anniversary celebration, they will play four games this season in uniforms from 1962-63, when they were the Chicago Zephyrs. One of those games will be Feb. 27, when they play host to the Bulls.

Three other teams will wear retro uniforms while taking part in NBA Hardwood Classics Nights, which began this weekend when the Philadelphia 76ers were attired in throwback gear on Friday.

The 76ers will celebrate their 60th anniversary by playing 19 games wearing the home uniform from their 1982-83 team, which had won Philadelphia's last championship before the Phillies' World Series victory.

Cleveland will play 10 games in the original yellow uniforms it wore between 1970 and 1974, and the Hornets will honor the history of basketball in New Orleans four times when they wear the home uniforms of the ABA's Bucs from the 1967-68 season.

THEY'RE ALL DOPEY: During a timeout in Thursday's game against Detroit, the Boston Celtics entertained fans with a contest on the scoreboard in which a couple players tried to name all of Snow White's seven dwarfs.

Ray Allen got five. Eddie House only got three. A fan picked from the crowd got six.

Which did they all forget?

Doc.

So, how did Celtics coach Glenn "Doc" Rivers feel about that?

"I think we're going to practice on Monday, now," he said with mock anger.

"Honestly, I don't think I could name all seven, either."


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