The Houston Rockets have won three in a row, but still haven't clinched a playoff berth. They will try to inch closer to the postseason Friday night when they visit the Portland Trail Blazers.
Houston is seventh in the Western Conference, one game behind the Golden State Warriors for sixth. The Rockets are three games ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers to stay in seventh.
The Rockets started a three-game road trip with a win Wednesday night in Sacramento. Houston prevailed 112-102 thanks to three double-doubles.
Omer Asik had 19 points and 10 rebounds, while seldom-used Kentucky rookie Terrance Jones added 14 points and 12 boards off the bench.
"He had a great practice yesterday," said Houston head coach Kevin McHale when asked about giving Jones minutes. "I told our staff, 'We've given everybody a shot at that spot, we might as well give Terrence a shot.'"
Jeremy Lin had the third double-double on Wednesday with 15 points and 10 assists. Chandler Parsons led all scorers with 29 points on 12-for-18 shooting and James Harden had 21 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.
The Blazers limp into Friday's game losers of six straight. They have been without All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge (right ankle) and Nicolas Batum (right shoulder). Both are listed as questionable for Friday.
Aldridge sounded adamant that he would play on Friday.
"I'm doing my job," Aldridge said after practice on Thursday. "I was hurt and now I feel healthy again, so I'm going to play."
Portland dropped three straight at home and its most recent setback came on Wednesday when the Memphis Grizzlies came to Rose City and squashed the Blazers 94-76.
Memphis put the clamps on Portland in the second half, holding the Blazers to 30 points over the final 24 minutes.
"We kept battling. We didn't shoot the ball well in the second half and we were 1-for-18 on threes, so obviously that affected whatever run that we were trying to make in the second half," said Portland coach Terry Stotts.
The Blazers started three rookies - Damian Lillard, Meyers Leonard and Victor Claver. Lillard and J.J. Hickson led the team in scoring with 17 points apiece. Leonard netted 10 points and Claver managed only seven.
The Blazers won the first two matchups this season with the Rockets, but Houston captured the most recent decision, a 118-103 victory at home on Feb. 8. Houston is 3-5 in its last eight games in the Pacific Northwest.