NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, January 4th (All times Eastern)
Houston Rockets (18-14) at Milwaukee Bucks (16-14), 8:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Houston Rockets found a way to win last time out that didn't involve knocking down a ton of shots from behind the arc.
The Rockets are likely to try and get their long-range game back on track Friday night as they seek a third straight victory in a clash with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Only the New York Knicks average more 3-point attempts per game than the Rockets' 27.2. That strategy certainly paid off in a New Year's Eve victory over the Atlanta Hawks as Houston knocked down 16 of its 29 3-point attempts in a 123-104 triumph.
However, the Rockets shot just 5-of-24 from behind the arc in Wednesday's meeting with the New Orleans Hornets and instead turned to some more physical basketball in a 104-92 win.
James Harden scored 31 points and handed out seven assists as the Rockets outscored the Hornets 60-28 in the paint. Omer Asik added 21 points to match a career high and also pulled down eight rebounds.
Patrick Patterson added 15 points and a season-high 10 boards off the bench.
"There have been a couple of games like that this year where our offense was not really on point and we didn't score 120 or 130 points," Harden said. "We had to find other ways to do it and I think that is showing a maturity that we are growing. We are getting better. We are just finding ways."
Harden especially had to move down low to score as he went 2-of-8 from 3-point range. He still managed to net at least 25 points for a 10th straight game and help Houston win for the ninth time in 12 games overall.
"For us, we are going to take a lot of 3s," said Rockets head coach Kevin McHale. "It's just kind of how our offense is and how our personnel is. ... We do live and die on that a little bit."
The Bucks hope that the Rockets' struggles from downtown continue tonight as they aim to avoid a third straight loss. They dug themselves an early hole on Wednesday against the visiting San Antonio Spurs and a late rally wasn't enough in a 117-110 defeat.
The Bucks allowed the Spurs to net 69 points in the first half, but an 8-0 run late in the fourth pulled Milwaukee to within five with 13.1 seconds left. However, San Antonio knocked down a pair of free throws to ice the game.
"You dig that kind of hole against a team like that, you're probably in trouble," Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said. "We did a better job in the second half than we did in the first half but not the kind of team you want to spot that many points."
Brandon Jennings netted a game-high 31 points, while rookie John Henson added a career-high 20 points on 10-of-11 shooting with nine boards off the bench. Monta Ellis ended with 18 points and eight assists.
Guard Beno Udrih missed the game due to a right ankle injury that had held him out of 12 games previously this season. He is not expected to play Friday night or Saturday at Indiana.
The Bucks ended an 11-game slide in Houston with a 105-99 triumph in their lone meeting with the Rockets last season.
The Rockets, though, have still won 11 of the past 14 encounters overall and four of their last six in Milwaukee.
01/04 10:41:02 ET