Rockets, Suns meet again in Space City
The Houston Rockets will try to avenge a loss over the weekend to the Phoenix Suns when the two squads meet in Houston on Wednesday night.
The Suns bested the Rockets 107-105 on Saturday. The Rockets have been off since the loss and will begin a stretch of seven straight at home and nine of 10 in their own building.
Houston just played three straight on the road and went 1-2 with the only victory a 94-88 win over the Golden State Warriors on Friday. The Rockets have won three of their last five and are the seventh seed in the Western Conference, just 1 1/2 games behind those Warriors for the sixth spot.
"The homestand means nothing if we don't play well," head coach Kevin McHale said after Monday's practice. "The homestand means nothing if we play the way we did against Phoenix, or against Washington, or against Milwaukee at home."
The Suns loss was particularly ugly. The Rockets committed 21 turnovers, which led to 24 Phoenix points, and the Suns won the battle on the boards, 47-39.
"We gave up 28 points off our turnovers and gave (the Suns) 24 second-chance points," McHale said. "That's 52 points that they got off of our stuff. That's unacceptable."
James Harden was sensational for the Rockets with 27 points, eight assists and five rebounds. He shot 11-for-17 and 7-for-10 from long range, but did have eight turnovers.
Carlos Delfino scored 21 off the bench and went 5-for-9 from beyond the arc. Harden and Delfino combined for 24 in the fourth quarter, but it was not enough.
The Suns have played since the win over the Rockets. They fell at home to the red-hot Denver Nuggets, 108-93, on Monday night.
Wesley Johnson led the way against the Nuggets with 18 points. Marcin Gortat and Jermaine O'Neal both missed the Denver game and the Nuggets scored 74 points in the paint.
"We have to play with what we have," said interim coach Lindsey Hunter."One of our sayings is 'no excuses' so whoever is playing has to step up and play. That's the way it is."
Luis Scola started at center with the Morris twins, Markieff and Marcus at the forward spots. Gortat will be out a while with a sprained foot and O'Neal is sidelined with a personal matter as he is with his ill daughter.
These two teams still have two more meetings this season and Phoenix has won three in a row and 10 of 13 meetings with Houston.