Small forward Trevor Ariza left the game on Tuesday night and did not return. The Rockets first said Ariza was questionable to return but then ruled him out the rest of the game with a bruised lower back.
Ariza drove on a layup with eight minutes left in the first quarter, going strong to the hoop only to fall hard pretty close to straight on his back. Ariza did use both of his elbows to brace the fall but still was hard enough to have to be helped off of the court.
Ariza injury #Rockets pic.twitter.com/rTtsFbusll— Dr. Joshua Reese (@MrJoshua) December 9, 2015
After the game coach J.B. Bickerstaff told the media that Ariza went for X-rays but he had no update on how serious the injury is. The Rockets play on Wednesday against the Wizards on the second half of a back-to-back. It's likely that Ariza could miss the Wizards game to rest up. Ariza, however, has played in 104 straight games (not counting playoff games) so if he is healthy he will go.
The small forward has been very important for the Rockets: he is the team's best defender, able to guard anyone from point guard to power forward. Ariza is also a very good spot up three-point shooter, which the starting unit needs to help create space for James Harden. If the Rockets are forced to keep Ariza out for multiple games, they will suffer without him.