NBA Preview from The Sports Network|
Monday, March 24th
(All times Eastern)
Houston Rockets (47-22) at Charlotte Bobcats (34-36), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Rockets haven't missed a beat with Dwight
Howard's recent absence and will try for a fourth straight win without the
All-Star center Monday against the Charlotte Bobcats.
Howard has missed Houston's last three games -- all wins -- with a balky knee
and had fluid drained from it last week. MRI results revealed a cyst in the
left ankle and Howard is doubtful for Monday's game. Howard is averaging 18.6
points and 12.4 rebounds.
The Rockets improved to 8-3 in their last 11 games with Saturday's 118-111 win
over the Cleveland Cavaliers, as James Harden pumped in 37 points and handed
out 11 assists.
"I let the game come to me. If the shot is there for me, I take it. If the
pass is there, I make sure I make the right pass every time. If the drive is
there, I take the drive," said Harden, who is fifth in the NBA with 24.8 ppg.
"It's just a matter of me using my basketball instincts and going out there
and just playing."
Houston is 12-5 in games Harden scores 30-plus points. Harden is averaging
26.7 points in his last seven games for the Rockets, who fended off a fourth-
quarter rally by the Cavs to push their road record to 19-15. The Rockets also
stopped a three-game road slide.
The Rockets went 30-for-34 from the free throw line and received 16 points
from Chandler Parsons and 15 out of Patrick Beverly. Terence Jones and Jeremy
Lin scored 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Houston, which has a 21-5 record against teams from the East and a 26-9 mark
overall since Jan. 1, is third in the NBA with 106.9 ppg and is averaging
124.0 ppg during the three-game winning streak. The team is fourth in the
Western Conference -- just 1 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Rockets will host the Philadelphia 76ers and Clippers on an upcoming
Charlotte enters Monday's matchup with the Rockets on a high note and
dispatched the Portland Trail Blazers 124-94 on Saturday. The Bobcats opened a
three-game homestand and scored a season high in points. They are 21-4 this
season when they score 100-plus points, including 12-1 at home.
Al Jefferson (28), Kemba Walker (26) and Gerald Henderson (23) reached the 20-
point mark and Chris Douglas-Roberts added 11 for Charlotte, which opened the
game on a 17-4 run, shot 52 percent from the field and committed just five
turnovers. The win lifted Charlotte to a 7-3 mark in the last 10 games.
"We came out with a big win against a good team tonight," Walker said. "We
just went hard as possible out there and see what happens."
The Bobcats have won nine of their last 10 home games, averaging 103.9 ppg in
that period, and own a 20-15 record at Time Warner Cable Arena. They are 9-5
as the host versus the West and sit seventh in the Eastern Conference
standings -- two games behind Washington and two ahead of Atlanta.
Charlotte will also welcome the Brooklyn Nets to town on the stay.
Meanwhile, Jefferson will try to take advantage of Houston inside and has
scored 20 or more points in 27 of his last 33 games, posting and average of
25.4 points and 10.7 rebounds in that span.
Jefferson is averaging 25.2 points in the team's wins this season and will
most likely battle Rockets big man Omer Asik, who has started the last three
games and is averaging 11.0 points and 8.3 rebounds over that stretch.
Houston defeated Charlotte, 96-83, back on Oct. 30 in Space City, as Harden
led the way with 21 points and Howard followed with 17 points and 26 rebounds.
The Rockets have won six straight and 14 of the 19 matchups with the Bobcats,
and are 5-4 lifetime in Charlotte.
03/24 10:29:18 ET