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- Two weeks after the death of his daughter, Sasha McHale, Kevin McHale has rejoined the Rockets and will coach the team for the first time since Nov. 9. Kelvin Sampson, who posted a 7-6 record while serving as acting coach during McHale’s leave of absence, will return to his usual role as McHale’s lead assistant. “It feels good to be back,” McHale said. “Needless to say, it’s been a terrible month. But it just felt like the time to come back and go back to work and be around the guys. … I thought Kelvin did a tremendous job. … I thought they did a great job of implementing [changes].”
- Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said Brandan Wright will start in place of the injured Shawn Marion (strained groin) on Saturday in Houston, where Dallas will try to snap the Rockets’ six-game home winning streak while earning its eighth consecutive victory over its in-state rivals. On a positive note for the Mavericks, center Chris Kaman will start despite spraining his left ankle during Thursday’s victory in Phoenix. “Kaman is on the active list. We’ll have to see [how many minutes he can play],” Carlisle said. “We need everybody to do their job well, and the sum total of all those guys doing what they’re supposed to do creates a collective will and a collective strength. We have to be striving for that every night.”
- With the Rockets (9-9) at the beginning of a four-game homestand, McHale said it is important for his squad to set the correct tone by delivering a bounce-back performance following Friday’s 114-92 drubbing in San Antonio. “Last night San Antonio put it on us pretty hard,” McHale said. “Our guys have proven that they’re going to grind … and we can build from that.”
- Although Mavericks such as Marion, Wright and Vince Carter are accustomed to helping Dallas (9-10) walk out of Toyota Center victorious, leading scorer O.J. Mayo has never experienced that feeling. The former Grizzly is winless in seven trips to Houston.
– Matt Miller