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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, March 5th (All times Eastern)

Houston Rockets (41-19) at Orlando Magic (19-43), 7 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - Dwight Howard will return to the city he called home for eight seasons on Wednesday night when his Houston Rockets visit the Orlando Magic.

Howard played his first eight seasons in the league with the Magic before they traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers before last season. He signed with the Rockets as a free agent this past summer and is helping lead Houston to prominence.

The Rockets have won two in a row, four of five and 12 of 15.

Their most recent victory was one of their more impressive of the season. On Tuesday night, Houston ended the Miami Heat's eight-game winning streak with a 106-103 decision at the Toyota Center.

All five Houston starters reached double figures, with Howard leading the way with a 22-point, 16-rebound effort. James Harden tallied 21 points and 11 assists, while Patrick Beverley and Terrence Jones netted 19 apiece in Houston's sixth straight home win. Chandler Parsons had 10 points and eight assists in the triumph.

The Rockets were ahead throughout on Tuesday, but the Heat showed their championship pedigree. Miami tied it with 7:39 to go and had a chance to force overtime but LeBron James is human after all. His stepback 3-pointer went a little long and the Rockets held James to 22 points one night after a career- high 61.

"I thought during stretches in this game we played really well," said Houston coach Kevin McHale. "We had a great start and a really good third quarter where we extended the lead a little bit. We did a lot of really good things tonight. That was a good game."

The Magic have won two of their last three, but both victories came against the lowly Philadelphia 76ers. In between, they lost to the Heat in South Beach.

Orlando has won two straight at home with the most recent victory a 92-81 decision over the Sixers on Sunday night.

Tobias Harris scored a career-high 31 points and Nikola Vucevic posted an impressive double-double in the triumph. Harris shot 11-of-20 from the field and made all nine of his free throws while Vucevic finished with 18 points and 17 rebounds against his former team.

E'Twaun Moore netted eight of his 11 points in the fourth quarter to help secure the win. Moe Harkless added 10 points in the victory.

"We knew as a team that this is a game that we had to win," Harris told the team's website. "We lost in Miami and I thought we played a pretty good game. It was a tough game mentally-wise for both teams because they played (on Saturday), too. Mentally we had to get ourselves ready before the game and then withstand it throughout the game."

Jameer Nelson missed the 76ers game with a sore left calf and is listed as questionable. Arron Afflalo missed his fifth straight with a sprained right ankle and illness. He is listed as probable.

The Rockets have won three straight against the Magic, but Orlando is 3-1 in its last four as the host in this series.

03/05 10:18:56 ET