Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 12/9/12
HOUSTON Kevin McHale does not know why he is here. Why today instead of yesterday, or instead of tomorrow? He cant answer that. Maybe he doesnt want to think about it. "I have no idea," he said. "Are you kidding me? I have no idea." Almost a month ago, McHale left Houston to be with his daughter, Alexandra, who had become sick. Her family called her Sasha. The Houston Rockets kept playing, of course. Kelvin Sampson stepped in to coach, and everybody seems to agree he did a fine job. They Rockets won seven and lost six. James Harden had big nights and bad ones. One night they beat the Lakers. But for really the first time in 32 years, the NBA moved on without Kevin McHale. Sasha died Nov. 24 from complications with Lupus. She was 23. McHale stayed away to grieve, and Sampson kept coaching the Rockets, and the NBA kept moving on. Around the NBA, there were moments of silence before games. Basketball is a small world. McHale is one of its dearest sons, and he was hurting. Saturday night McHale returned to basketball, his other home. Just before tipoff, all of the Dallas Mavericks went one-by-one to the Rockets bench to offer a pat on the back, a hug, a handshake. It was a sweet moment, and then the game started. Dallas (10-10) won 116-109 at Toyota Center. "Its been, needless to say, a terrible month," McHale said. "But it just felt like the time to come back, get back to work and be around the guys." McHale kept in touch with Sampson and the Rockets during his leave of absence, but he didnt want to speak in much detail about how he split his time. "With a new team and a bunch of new guys, your first 20 games, I feel bad I wasnt around to be here and help with the guys because everything works on the whiteboard when youre drawing stuff up and then a lot of stuff works in the exhibition season, but then the regular season starts and youre like, Boy, this doesnt work as good as I thought it would," McHale said. "Were going to have to do this or do that. So there were a ton of adjustments to be made and I thought they did a really good job." The Rockets slipped to 9-10 Saturday. They overcame a 19-point deficit and took an 11-point lead, but ultimately could not stop O.J. Mayo, who tied a career high with 40 points on 15-for-26 shooting to outduel Harden, who scored 39. The Rockets have a nasty little habit of starting slowly, and McHales return didnt solve that problem. McHale said the Rockets have another issue, which is relying too much on Harden. Though he had nine assists and only needed 17 field goal attempts to score 39 points, the Rockets get a little stagnant from time to time, McHale said. He wants them to play faster. McHale also seems to prefer a slightly different rotation than Sampson did. He played Toney Douglas 34 minutes at the point, and Jeremy Lin 18. He didnt play Marcus Morris at all, and went with Cole Aldrich instead of Greg Smith at the backup center spot. But these are just basketball things. "Hes here working to make solutions to something so small next to what (hes been through)," said Rockets guard Carlos Delfino. And yet basketball is big, because basketball is normal. It has been a basketball life for McHale. There were times, as he was up there in Minnesota, trying to care for a dying daughter, that the end of the day would come, and Sampson would be on the phone. And maybe it wasnt much, but it was something. "It was hard just because your mind is a million miles away but youre still watching the games and youre stilling pulling for the guys so hard and you want them to win and you literally just ache with every loss and rejoice with every win and its really fun," McHale said. "But its just different. We just would talk basketball and a lot of times that hour of the day was sometimes the best part of the day." So hes back. Hes a basketball coach coaching basketball again. Maybe that will help. "Ill find out," he said.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Sanu: Halftime show played role in Super Bowl collapse

James Dolan is among potential group of investors of new arena for New York Islanders

Report: Rams, Clippers discussing NBA venue in Inglewood

Terrence Jones reportedly interested in joining Celtics

LeBron reverses course, says he ‘always felt good’ about Cavs

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Ole Miss tried to implicate Mississippi State in football scandal

Jamaal Charles could be on the roster bubble

Jimmy Butler on state of Bulls: ‘I just want to win at all costs’

Report: Giants will be ‘aggressive’ in trying to sign Jason Pierre-Paul

Report: Porzingis avoided ligament damage in ankle

Brooks Koepka meltdown includes whiff, stomping head off driver

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Box Score 2/24: A night of NBA disrespect

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

James Dolan is among potential group of investors of new arena for New York Islanders

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker