Working on deadline Though Tracy McGrady declared his season over late Tuesday night, the Rockets are, according to team owner Leslie Alexander, actively looking to make moves not involving the star guard before Thursday's NBA trade deadline.
"We're obviously very active to try to improve the team," Alexander said. "We have a lot of assets. I don't know if we'll do anything or not. It depends on other people, not just us."
Though the Rockets have been held back again by injuries this season, Alexander described their play as more "distressing."
"I'm more distressed when I don't think the team plays up to its potential, and I don't think the team has played up to its potential this year," Alexander said. "Sloppiness on the court, throwing the ball away, not playing defense - those things bother me more than injuries. Because I think we have enough talent that if we're not injured, we can still play well against most teams - all teams, really."
Alexander, speaking after announcing the creation of a charitable foundation along with the Chinese distribution company Uni-President to build facilities to benefit children in low-income areas in China, also said the Rockets are determined to keep Yao Ming, who can opt out of his contract after next season.
"When you have great players and a guy who works as hard as he does, we want to keep them," Alexander said. "He's a model NBA player. We want to keep him for the rest of his career."
Artest wants to start
Ron Artest got his second consecutive start with Tracy McGrady out while seeking additional opinions on his troublesome left knee, and Arest said he thought he should have been starting all along.
"Obviously, I probably should have been a starter on this team, but coach was probably trying to keep the nucleus of the Houston Rockets that he had this year," said Artest, who has started 27 of the 41 games he has played this season. "It's something that I had to come in and adjust the way I'm used to playing. This is the same old thing. I feel any team, any place I always feel I should be the starter. It's up to the coach if that's going to be the case or not."
Artest said he does not have to adjust to starting but did have difficulties staying warm coming off the bench.
"I started the beginning of the season," Artest said. "Then, when I wasn't starting any more, it took longer to adjust to not being warm because I was not used to not starting. .
"I never complained about it. I'm not going to start now."
Landry hurts ankle
Even with several small but good signs, the Rockets continued to struggle with their season-long quest to get healthy.
Forward Carl Landry went out with 3:53 left in the first half Tuesday with a sprained right ankle.
Guard Luther Head has stepped up his workouts and has an MRI on his sore right foot scheduled for Monday in the hopes he will be cleared for that day's practice.
Rookie Joey Dorsey, who has battled plantar fasciitis in both feet through much of the season, was pain-free in his right foot and had slight irritation in his left foot.