High-scoring Rockets visit Mile High City

( - The Houston Rockets are aiming to improve their playoff positioning and will try to take another step in that direction Wednesday night when they visit the Pepsi Center to take on the Denver Nuggets.

The Rockets are currently fourth in the Western Conference, but are just 1 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the third seed. (The Clippers host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday.) Houston is also 2 1/2 games clear of the Portland Trail Blazers, who reside in fifth.

The Rockets have won three straight, including the opener of this three- game road trip which ends Friday night in Minnesota.

On Tuesday, the Rockets hung 145 points on the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center en route to a 15-point victory. The 145 was a season-high for the Rockets, and the most points scored by any team this season.

However, it was also the most points the Rockets surrendered since the fourth game of the season against the Clippers.

James Harden and Terrence Jones each poured in 33 points, but Jones left the game with cramps.

Dwight Howard was unable to suit up against his former team, missing a sixth straight game due to an ankle injury. Omer Asik donated 10 points and 15 rebounds in his place, while Chandler Parsons and Isaiah Canaan contributed 19 and 15 points, respectively, to the rout.

"We had it going. We still gave up too many points, more than we wanted to, but offensively we got it going and made up for our lack of defense tonight," said Harden.

The Rockets scored a staggering 49 points in the third quarter.

It could be another big night offensively for the Rockets as the Nuggets are the third-worst defensive team in the NBA.

These two teams met in Houston on Sunday and the Rockets prevailed, 130-125 in overtime.

Evan Fournier paced Denver with 26 points off the bench and Aaron Brooks tallied 24 points against one of his former teams in the setback, the Nuggets' sixth straight on the road.

Kenneth Faried deposited a 16-point, 13-rebound double-double for Denver.

The Nuggets led by 11 points with 6 1/2 minutes to go, but couldn't contain Harden.

"We came out in the third quarter and absorbed their lead and tied it up and then went up double digits ourselves and we had a 14-point lead. But then, we started to play not to lose," said Denver coach Brian Shaw.

The Rockets won both of this season's matchups with Denver to halt a seven- game series losing streak. Houston has dropped three in a row in the Mile High City.