- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2009

HOUSTON (AP) - Houston Rockets forward Carl Landry is expected to miss one to three weeks after he was shot in the left leg early Tuesday while driving near his home.

The injury was minor, and the team said Landry was treated at a hospital and released. Landry, who also dislocated a finger on his left hand, also was examined by team doctor Tom Clanton.

The shooting occurred about 2:30 a.m., a few hours after the Rockets returned from a game at New Orleans. Landry drove home after the team arrived about 12:30 a.m.

Houston police said Landry was driving his sport utility vehicle southbound on a city street, when a northbound car swerved into his path and collided with his vehicle. Landry and the driver of the other vehicle made U-turns and the vehicles collided again and Landry’s SUV hit a utility pole.

Police spokesman Kese Smith said Landry got out of his SUV to inspect the damage, and was shot by one of the two occupants of the car. The suspects then fled the scene, while Landry ran to get help, police said.

Smith originally said the incident occurred about 4 a.m., but said later that was the time authorities were notified. Smith did not know if Landry was the person who called police.

Landry had a female passenger in his SUV, and she was not injured, police said.

General manager Daryl Morey visited Landry at the hospital and said he sustained a surface wound that was no worse than a calf strain.

“We’re just happy Carl is OK,” Morey said. “By what we can understand, he was very lucky _ obviously unlucky to have this situation happen to him, but very lucky that he came out without anything major.”

The 6-foot-9 Landry has become a valuable player off the bench for the Rockets, averaging 9.3 points and five rebounds in his second NBA season. He had 12 points and six rebounds in Monday’s 95-84 win that kept Houston in third place in the Western Conference standings.

Houston coach Rick Adelman said he had not talked to Landry since the shooting, but several players had checked in with their teammate.

“He just sounded happy, blessed,” said point guard Aaron Brooks. “It was a situation that pretty much anybody could’ve been in. He’s just blessed to be OK, blessed that he’s alive and that he’ll be back and be Carl again.”

Adelman said Landry’s injury could mean more playing time for Chuck Hayes and Dikembe Mutombo, who played 25 minutes on Monday’s victory.

“Obviously, it hurts us,” Adelman said of Landry’s absence. “But on the other hand, it’s going to give other guys the chance to step up and play. We’ve got to have that from everybody else. It’s going to hurt us, but he’ll be back and the rest of our group has to try to step up and win games.”

Landry was drafted by Seattle in the second round in 2007, then traded to Houston for a future second-round pick and cash. He averaged eight points and 4.9 rebounds in 2007-08.

In Game 3 of a first-round series against Utah, Landry blocked Deron Williams’ layup try with 3.4 seconds left to preserve Houston’s 94-92 victory. Landry also lost a tooth in that game after taking an elbow from Utah’s Carlos Boozer.

“Carl has been great for us,” Houston forward Shane Battier said. “His energy and punch off the bench has been outstanding. But it’s ironic that other guys will get a chance to step in, much like he got a chance to step in and give us a lift last year.

“We’re not worried about Carl from the basketball standpoint. That’s the least of our worries. We just want him to get healthy and deal with this episode.”

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