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MMPG: Team of the Weak

Houston Rockets

What did I do? (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)

If it wasn't obvious by the way they sleepwalked through most of an 89-87 loss against the Washington Wizards last Monday, the Houston Rockets have some problems. Picked by some to contend with the Los Angeles Lakers for the top spot in the Western Conference, the Rockets have been unable to reach those lofty expectations, with injuries -- again -- derailing those plans. Yao Ming has been healthy practically the entire season, but Tracy McGrady, Ron Artest and Shane Battier have been in and out of the lineup all season.

In their past seven games, the Rockets are 2-5. They lost three out of four games last week, and were fortunate to come away with that 85-81 win against Milwaukee, which players said felt like a defeat. Injuries aren't the only problem with the Rockets. After a 21-point loss in Toronto on Friday, when McGrady surrendered an uncontested baseline dunk to Jamario Moon, point guard Rafer Alston said, "I think they want to hand out pink slips and fines the way we've been approaching our game and going about our business lately."

The next night, the Rockets lost 103-100 in Atlanta, when it allowed Mike Bibby to drill a game-winning three-pointer with 1.5 seconds remaining. McGrady's left knee injury has kept him from playing back-to-back games, but now columnists in Houston are claiming that McGrady has quit on the team and is holding the Rockets hostage. McGrady has averaged just 8.2 points and missed 30 of his past 45 shot attempts in his past five games. He has been sulking on the floor and recently complained about being frustrated with the offense.

By Michael Lee  |  January 5, 2009; 10:03 AM ET
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