Luis Scola and Yao Ming

When Yao Ming and Aaron Brooks went down early in the season with injuries and the Rockets had a 5-12 record after 17 games, it looked like another hard-luck lost season in Houston. While Yao is out for the season (and possibly forever), Aaron Brooks is back in the lineup and the Rockets have won 10 of their last 14 games — they were on a five-game winning streak before losing by six points to the Heat on Wednesday.

Since they’re only two wins behind Portland for eighth seed in the Western Conference and they have the smart GM-coach combo of Daryl Morey and Rick Adelman running the team, I’ll be surprised if the Rockets don’t make the playoffs this season. They have to be in that mindset as well, and I assume that they’ll be dialed in to play an injury-depleted Raptors team in Houston tonight. I expect this to be quite the opposite style of the Raptors’ low-scoring victory in Dallas on Tuesday — both teams will probably score over 100 points and the game will be decided by who can make key stops in the fourth quarter.

Injury report

Toronto: OK, deep breath… Jose Calderon, Jerryd Bayless and Amir Johnson will be game-time decisions. Sonny Weems is probably out. Andrea Bargnani, Reggie Evans and Peja Stojakovic are definitely out. What’s that, half the freakin’ roster? Hey, at least we’ve got an excuse for why this team stinks, right? No?

Houston: Chuck Hayes sprained his ankle in practice yesterday and he’s expected to miss the next two to four weeks. Yao Ming is out for the season, and we may never see him play NBA basketball again. :(

Five questions

1. After Ed Davis’ performance (17 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks, three steals) in the Raptors’ upset over the Mavericks on Tuesday, do you think he could be Toronto’s best draft pick since Chris Bosh in 2003?

2. Did any of you want Bryan Colangelo to draft Patrick Patterson instead of Ed Davis? Patterson has played 15 minutes for the Rockets so far this season.

3.With Houston’s recent troubles over the past two seasons, would you swap GMs with them if you could?

4.With all the Raptors’ injuries, will we see some Solomon Alabi action if the Raptors are getting blown out late in the game?

5. Who would be your choice for starting center of an NBA all-redneck team: Brad Miller or Chris Kaman?

Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Channel: Sportsnet One
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jerryd Bayless, DeMar DeRozan, Linas Kleiza, Joey Dorsey, Amir Johnson
Houston: Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin, Shane Battier, Luis Scola, Brad Miller

I’m pretty sure there won’t be a Raptorblog recap for this game because, well, you do know what tonight is, right? For the pregame song, I offer up this dude playing “Auld Lang Syne” on the banjo — it gets good at around the 50-second mark, as far as banjo playing goes. Have a fun, safe time tonight.