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Rockets hope to get on track against New Orleans

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Rockets are tumbling a bit, but will try to get on track Saturday night when they welcome the New Orleans Pelicans to the Toyota Center.

The Rockets closed their three-game road trip with back-to-back losses and their chances of hosting a first-round playoff series are now in serious jeopardy.

Houston is only a half-game ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers, who currently reside in fifth. The Rockets host the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, then finish up with a road game against these Pelicans.

Portland, which has won three in a row, hosts the Golden State Warriors on Sunday and welcomes the Los Angeles Clippers to the Moda Center on Wednesday night.

After a seven-point loss in Denver on Wednesday, the Rockets dropped a heartbreaker in Minnesota, 112-110, to the Timberwolves.

Corey Brewer scored a franchise-record 51 points for the Wolves, but Gorgui Dieng's game-winning basket with 4.6 seconds left spurred Minnesota to the victory.

James Harden stuffed the stat sheet in defeat, pouring in a team-high 33 points to go with 10 assists, eight rebounds and six steals. Chandler Parsons added 27 points, seven rebounds and seven assists and Jeremy Lin scored 14 for the Rockets.

"Three games to go, we're trying to lock in home-court advantage and we just keep letting games slip away," said Harden.

Dwight Howard missed his eighth straight game with an ankle injury.

The Pelicans have dropped seven in a row and five straight on the road.

With Anthony Davis shut down for the remainder of the season due to back spasms, New Orleans has struggled badly. During this slide, things have been bad on both sides of the ball. Over the last seven, the Pelicans have surrendered 106.4 ppg, while scoring just 93.7 ppg.

On Friday, the Pelicans got clobbered by the Oklahoma City Thunder, 116-94, at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

"Our guys have scrapped and clawed and tried to do what they can to help the team and their teammates," said Pelicans head coach Monty Williams. "It's a tough situation, playing against a really good team. You're kind of behind to start the game. But we're not giving in and we're not looking for excuses. We've got to go out and compete every time we step on the floor."

Austin Rivers and Darius Miller each scored 18 points to lead the Pelicans. Tyreke Evans scored 13 before leaving the game in the third quarter with a knee bruise.

Alexis Ajinca chipped in 12 and James Southerland added 10 off the bench. Brian Roberts left in the first with a sprained ankle.

The Pelicans close with the Thunder and Rockets at home.

The Rockets have won both of this season's matchups and seven of the last nine meetings. Houston has won five straight as the host in this series.

04/12 10:25:28 ET