Houston Rockets 2008-09 preview glance

HOUSTON LAST SEASON: 55-27, lost to Utah 4-2 in first round of playoffs.

STARTING FIVE: G Rafer Alston (13.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 5.3 apg), G Tracy McGrady (21.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 5.9 apg), F Ron Artest (20.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2.3 spg), F Luis Scola (10.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.3 apg), C Yao Ming (22.0 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 2.0 bpg).

KEY ADDITIONS: F Artest (trade, Kings); G Brent Barry (free agent, Spurs).

KEY LOSSES: G Bobby Jackson (trade, Kings).

COACH: Rick Adelman, second season with Rockets, 18th overall; 807-508.

EYES ON: Yao. Limited by injuries to 57, 48 and 55 games the last three seasons. Rushed through rehab to return and play well for China in the Olympics, but the Rockets likely will try to control their franchise center's minutes as much as they can.

OUTLOOK: The Artest trade gives McGrady the best chance he's ever had to advance in the playoffs. However, that assumes the Rockets stay healthy, and that's been a problem for this team. McGrady already warned that he's still got nagging injuries, and Shane Battier began the preseason on the bench.

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