The Houston Rockets will try to get past their loss to the defending champion Miami Heat on Friday night when they host the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Rockets had won two in a row and made some history during the streak. Against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, the Rockets matched an NBA record with 23 made 3-pointers en route to a 140-109 drubbing.
The next night, Houston headed to South Beach and hung in with the Heat. The Rockets didn't have enough, squandered some late opportunities and fell 114-108.
If there was a silver lining in defeat, it was the play of first-time All- Star James Harden. He scored a game-high 36 points on 10-for-16 shooting and 4-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Harden grabbed 12 rebounds, handed out seven assists and had three steals.
"He had a great defender on him and he still had a great game," head coach Kevin McHale said of his All-Star guard. "He's a helluva basketball player. He can make shots, he's a tough kid, he rebounded his (butt) off out there and did a lot of good stuff."
All five Rockets starters scored in double figures and center Omer Asik also pulled down 14 rebounds.
After Friday's tilt with the Blazers, the Rockets head west for three games in a four-day span, starting Sunday.
The Blazers will play their third of six straight away from home on Friday. They are 1-1 thus far on the excursion with a win on Monday over the Minnesota Timberwolves and a loss on Wednesday at Dallas.
Against the Mavericks, the Blazers were outscored 25-17 in the fourth quarter en route to a 105-99 loss.
"Well, it was a good game. It could have gone either way," said Blazers coach Terry Stotts. "They came up with some rebounds, they made shots when they needed to, and it was a well-played game by both teams, but they made the plays when they needed to."
It was a well-played game as the teams only combined for 14 turnovers, six of which came from Portland and three of those belonged to center J.J. Hickson.
All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Hickson also had a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards. Wesley Matthews had 21 points and Damian Lillard netted 19.
The Blazers have won five of their last eight, but are 1-3 in their last four on the road.
Portland has won both of this season's matchups with Houston, including a 95-85 overtime victory in Houston on Nov. 3. A 119-117 victory in the Rose City on Nov. 16 also needed an extra period.