HOUSTON Houston star Tracy McGrady left Sunday night's game against Denver with a recurrence of severe back spasms.
The 6-foot-9 McGrady, who missed eight games earlier in the season because of back spasms, missed a deep jumper near the top of the key in the final seconds of the first half. He started backpedaling, stopped abruptly, bent over and crumpled to the floor, screaming in pain as the buzzer sounded.
McGrady was lifted onto a stretcher and rolled off the floor, surrounded by several team officials and owner Les Alexander. An ambulance took McGrady to the hospital.
The Rockets are already missing their other star, Yao Ming, who's out at least another month after surgery to remove an infection from his left big toe.
Guards Rafer Alston and Jon Barry recently returned from leg injuries and Derek Anderson remains sidelined with a calf strain. The backcourt trio has missed a total of 45 games this season.McGrady had topped 30 points in Houston's last five games. He had 11 points on 5-for-14 shooting in the first half against Denver.
ROCKETS RE-SIGN LUCAS: The Houston Rockets signed rookie guard John Lucas III to a 10-day contract on Sunday, four days after waiving him.
The 5-foot-11 Lucas, son of former Rocket John Lucas Jr., originally signed with Houston on Dec. 29. He played a total of 15 minutes in two games and was waived on Jan. 4, along with Josh Davis.The 23-year-old Lucas was playing for Tulsa of the NBA's developmental league when the Rockets first contacted him.
SLAP SHOT: Toronto Raptors' forward Morris Peterson was ejected from Sunday's game against the New Jersey Nets after slapping former teammate Vince Carter in the face.
Peterson got a technical for arguing a no-call late in the first half. About a minute later, Carter playfully slapped his ex-teammate in the face. An annoyed Peterson then slapped Carter.
Official Steve Javie didn't see the Carter slap, but he saw Peterson's and ejected him.
Carter, who is friends with Peterson, went to Javie to argue the call but to no avail.Carter played for the Raptors from 1998-99 until being traded to the Nets in December, 2004.
MARTIN SUFFERS BACK INJURY: Denver center Kenyon Martin left the Nuggets' game Sunday night against Houston after straining his back.
The 6-foot-9 Martin, Denver's leading rebounder, left the game with 11:27 left in the second quarter and was replaced by Eduardo Najera. Martin hobbled to the locker room later in the quarter, flinging his yellow headband into the seats.
Martin has missed eight games in an injury-plagued season. He was sidelined two games in late December with a right thigh bruise and sat out six other times because of tendinitis in his left knee.
Martin spent much of Friday's loss to Dallas with an ice pack on his back. He played only 9 minutes against the Rockets, hitting a free throw and grabbing three rebounds before suffering the injury.