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David Nwaba plays through pain in loss for the short-handed Rockets

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Not expected to play for at least six weeks, David Nwaba made his return to the free-falling Houston Rockets on Friday despite a severely injured wrist. 

NBA: Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

In the midst of the Houston Rockets 133-84 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, a dunk attempt left David Nwaba with an injured wrist. The injury sidelined Nwaba for three consecutive games — the first of an expected six-week hiatus. But as he sat on the sideline of the Golden 1 Center watching his teammates suffer their 14th consecutive loss on Thursday, Nwaba made up in his mind that he would do everything possible to make an inspirational return to the Rockets’ lineup despite his injury.

He said it was tough watching his teammates compete short-handed. And even though he was far from 100 percent, Nwaba felt any amount of contributions would be helpful to a team that barely met the league qualification to have eight active players against the Kings.

Friday night, just 12 days after he originally sustained his wrist injury, Nwaba made his return to the court in a 114-99 defeat to the Utah Jazz.

In 18 minutes, Nwaba connected on five of his seven shot attempts for 10 points to go along with eight rebounds in the loss. Nwaba’s return to the court did not prevent the Rockets from extending their losing streak to 15 games. But his will to play through a severely injured wrist was appreciated by first-year head coach Stephen Silas.

“I don’t think I could remember in my career a situation like Dave [David Nwaba]. Defensively, he was going after guys. Making plays on both ends. And had a big block on Rudy [Gobert]. That’s why you coach. For moments like that. For guys like that are the reason why you coach. It makes all of the long nights of watching film pale in comparison to the heart and the characters of the players you have in your locker room.” — Silas

A few days before the All-Star break, Silas announced that Nwaba would undergo wrist surgery. The Rockets defensive specialist preferred to have a second opinion. If anything, Nwaba was hoping that his wrist would improve with a week off from basketball activities. But upon their return back from the break, Nwaba’s ailing wrist did not improve.

On a scale of 1-10, Nwaba described his pain level between a five or six during his first game back in nearly two weeks. After the game, Nwaba was optimistic that he could avoid surgery in hopes of his wrist healing on its own.

“It’s tough to watch. Every night these guys go out there and compete. All these injuries, I just felt I had to get out there and help. I still felt like I could use my right hand. I had a couple of finishes with my right hand. When it comes to shooting, it gets a little painful. Other than that, I can definitely still use my right hand.” — Nwaba

At the time of this writing, Nwaba is questionable for Sunday’s game against the 19-18 Boston Celtics. It is unsure how many games Nwaba will be able to play during the second half of the season. But hopefully, the Rockets’ affray with the injury bug is nearing an end.

According to Silas during his pre-game press conference on Friday, the Rockets could see the return of Christian Wood, John Wall and Danuel House Jr. on Tuesday against the Atlanta Hawks.