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Tuesday, February 17th (All times eastern)

New Jersey Nets (24-29) at Houston Rockets (32-21), 8:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Houston Rockets get back to business Tuesday when they resume a six-game homestand by welcoming the New Jersey Nets to the Toyota Center.

The Rockets opened the residency on February 11 when Yao Ming tallied game- bests of 24 points and 18 rebounds to lead Houston, minus Tracy McGrady, in a 94-82 rout of the hapless Sacramento Kings.

McGrady sat out after getting an MRI on his sore left knee earlier that day. The procedure showed no new damage but the team is unsure when the former All- Star will return. McGrady has already missed 17 games this season after undergoing offseason arthroscopic surgery on the knee.

Ron Artest and Luis Scola scored 19 points apiece against Sacramento for the Rockets, who have alternated wins and losses for the past five tilts and, at 32-21, sit in second in the Southwest Division, four games south of the San Antonio Spurs.

Rafer Alston set a season high with 13 assists, but shot only 2-for-10 from the field to end with five points in the Rockets' win.

Houston, which is now an impressive 19-6 at the Toyota Center, will finish the homestand with bouts against Dallas, Charlotte, Portland and Cleveland.

The Nets, meanwhile, reached the break on a sour note last Tuesday after Tim Duncan registered 27 points and nine rebounds, as the Spurs did what they always seem to do against the Nets, systematically building a comfortable lead and burying home-standing New Jersey, 108-93.

San Antonio has come out victorious in 13 straight regular-season meetings over New Jersey, with New Jersey's last victory coming on November 13, 2003. The Nets have actually dropped 15 in a row to San Antonio, including Games 5 and 6 of the 2003 NBA Finals to close out the best-of-seven series.

Vince Carter, playing after hyper-extending his right elbow on Saturday versus Denver, scored a team-best 25 points with six rebounds and five assists. Devin Harris added 21 points, seven boards and five assists, while Brook Lopez collected 18 points and Trenton Hassell 10.

The Nets, who have dropped two straight following a season-best four-game winning streak, may get a boost tonight with the possible return of power forward Yi Jianlian, who has been on the shelf with a broken right pinky finger.

Houston has dominated this series recently winning five straight and eight of the past nine contests between the two teams, including a 114-91 win in the Meadowlands on December 22.

New Jersey, which is 13-13 on the road, will finish a two-day trip through Texas in Dallas on Wednesday.

02/17 10:33:12 ET


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