For a guy with a bum ankle, Ron Artest reversed field pretty nicely Wednesday. One day after saying he might have to sit out until the All-Star break to let his bone bruise heal, Artest said after shootaround that he intends to play against the Philadelphia 76ers.
With Yao Ming also expected back from a two-game absence with a bruised knee, it'll mark a reunion of sorts for Houston's Big Three; Yao, Tracy McGrady, and Artest have been healthy at the same time for only 22 games this season.
Artest's reversal only underscores how frustrating the Rockets' injury-plagued season has been. "It’s tough," point guard Rafer Alston said. "One day you've got this guy, the next day you don’t have this guy. So the offense changes, the game plan changes."
Artest told CBSSports.com Tuesday that his ankle was so sore that he considered sitting out the second half of the game against the Knicks Monday night -- his second game back after shutting it down for seven to give the ankle a chance to heal. He said one option doctors and trainers were considering was shutting him down again until after the Feb. 15 All-Star Game to make sure he's healthy for the stretch run.
But Artest changed his mind Wednesday. "I thought I was going to have to (sit out), because in the second half of that Knick game, my foot was really bothering me," Artest told the Houston Chronicle. "I thought I would have to give it more time to rest. I woke up (Wednesday) morning and felt great. That’s a sign that the ankle has gotten better. The pain didn’t go on past a couple days. That’s a great, great sign."
Yao said he felt like the Rockets were starting over Wednesday night, given that he, McGrady, and Artest have been in and out of the lineup so often lately.
"I feel like it is the first game for our season, that we finally get everybody here," Yao said.