HOUSTON - Kevin McHale took a leave of absence from his job as coach of the Houston Rockets to return to Minnesota because of a family matter.

The Rockets didn't get specific, but there were indications that McHale's youngest daughter, Alexandra, is ill.

"We're going to use it as motivation, to do it for him, for his daughter," Rockets guard Carlos Delfino told the Houston Chronicle.

McHale grew up in Hibbing, played for the Gophers and was general manager and coach of the Timberwolves.

Assistant coach Kelvin Sampson took on the head coaching responsibilities. His day had begun with a basketball chat with McHale, he said, but their next conversation wasn't about basketball.

"I got a call from him and he was very emotional," Sampson said.

Sampson's first night on the job included a victory. The Rockets beat Detroit 96-82 in Houston.