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GM Morey says Rockets can win title

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said Sunday night he thinks his team can win the NBA title.

Morey's team is currently the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference with nine games remaining in the regular season. In order to reach the NBA Finals, the Rockets will have to overcome several health issues.

Forwards Terrence Jones (lung) and Donatas Motiejunas (lower back pain) have been out recently, and Morey expects them to return before the end of the regular season.

Starting center Dwight Howard has played the past three games under a minutes restriction after missing nearly eight weeks with swelling in his right knee. Howard will not play in Monday's game at the Toronto Raptors.

Starting point guard Patrick Beverley has a torn ligament in his left wrist and is contemplating surgery. Morey said the team will make a final determination on Beverley's status on Monday, but if they don't have him, it won't deter the team's goal of trying to win a championship.

"We think we can win the title with or without Beverley," Morey said on ESPN Radio's Basketball Insiders show. "Obviously it gets more challenging without Beverley; he's the key to our ability to guard a lot of these very good point guards in the West."

Morey said the Golden State Warriors, who own the NBA's best record and swept the season series against the Rockets this season, should be the favorites to win the title.

"We won't go in as the favorite," Morey said. "I think Golden State, deservedly so, gets to be called the favorite. They've had a very historic season. I think the Golden State training staff hasn't been talked about enough this year. That team has been healthy and really that showcased everyone in Golden State. Coach [Steve] Kerr has done a great job. We won't go in as the favorite. We do feel like we can beat anybody in a seven-game series, and we're pretty excited to get going with the playoffs."

The Rockets won NBA titles in the 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons but have advanced past the first round of the playoffs only three times since. In the past two seasons, Houston was eliminated in the first round.

"Got to break the curse this year and get out of the first round," Howard said. "We got a great opportunity in front of us. We want to seize this moment and not take anything for granted, and everybody is on the same page."

With Sunday's 99-91 victory over the Washington Wizards, the Rockets have won at least 50 games for the second consecutive season.

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