Struggling Without Roy

The Houston Rockets have put together their best stretch of the season thanks in part to the return of one of their star players. The Portland Trail Blazers, meanwhile, have struggled in the absence of their leading man.

Tracy McGrady and the Rockets go for their 11th win in 12 games Monday when they host the Blazers, who hope Brandon Roy can return and help the team get back on track.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Houston -8 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 183 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 59% of bets for this game have been placed on Houston -8 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Houston (30-20) dropped the last two games of an 11-game stretch during which McGrady sidelined by a sore left knee, but has won 10 of 11 since his return. McGrady missed one of those games because of flu-like symptoms, but has keyed the Rockets' resurgence that includes a season-high six-game win streak.

Houston extended its run Saturday, leading by as many as 33 in a 108-89 blowout of Atlanta. The Rockets haven't won seven straight since going 7-0 to close the 2004-05 season and winning their opener in 2005-06.

"We've put ourselves in a great position to keep on moving up," McGrady said. "We're playing extremely well and we didn't want to take them lightly. It's all about business and taking care of home court."

McGrady has totaled only 23 points and shot 8-for-25 from the field in his last two games while playing through an upper respiratory infection, but said after Saturday's win that he's feeling healthy again. He averaged 21.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 6.3 assists in his first eight games back, coming off the bench in four of them.

The Rockets' recent success has helped them pull into a tie for the eighth and final playoff spot in the loaded West. They're two games ahead of the Blazers (28-22), who are 6-9 since winning 17 of 18.

Roy has missed Portland's back-to-back losses because of a death in his family. The Blazers, 9-18 without the guard since acquiring him in a draft-night trade with Minnesota in 2006, expect to have the reigning Rookie of the Year back in the lineup Monday.

Roy leads his team in scoring (19.7 points per game), assists (5.8) and steals (1.0), and was selected to play in Sunday's All-Star game. He is the Blazers' first All-Star since Rasheed Wallace in 2001.

Without Roy and forward James Jones (knee), Portland committed nine turnovers in the third quarter of a 101-93 loss to Indiana on Saturday night.

"We still have some maturing to do," said guard Jarrett Jack, averaging 14.8 points and 7.5 assists in his last four games, including three straight starts. "It's tough when those guys are out. But everybody has to step up in that situation and contribute somehow."

The Blazers shot just 38.4 percent from the field in losing their first two games against the Rockets this season - their worst percentage against any team they've played more than once. Roy, however, scored 23 points in each of those contests while shooting a combined 18-for-35 from the floor.

McGrady, meanwhile, averaged 17.5 points and 5.5 assists in the two games versus Portland, shooting just 35.1 percent.

The Rockets will try to continue their dominance of the Blazers in Houston, where Portland has won once in its last eight visits. The Rockets have two games remaining on a four-game homestand that leads into the All-Star break.

"We understand the task at hand," McGrady said. "There's no reason for us to go out there and blow these games."

By: Marc Young - - Email Us

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