NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, December 28th (All times Eastern)
Houston Rockets (16-12) at San Antonio Spurs (22-8), 8:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Houston Rockets take a five-game winning streak into Friday's Texas tussle at the AT&T Center against the San Antonio Spurs, winners of three in a row themselves.
The Rockets had won the first four of this current streak by an average of 20.7 points. They scored an average of 118.7 ppg over those first four, but the fifth win in a row came in a much different fashion.
The Rockets pulled out an 87-84 road victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night.
"That was the anti how we wanted to play," admitted head coach Kevin McHale. "We struggled to find a rhythm all night long. I had an idea we could run a couple of things but we had to keep it close. Then down the stretch I thought there was a play I thought would work really well for James, we got it to him and he delivered for us big time down the stretch."
The James he's referring to is James Harden, the fourth-leading scorer in the NBA. Harden had 30 points against the Timberwolves, including 17 in the decisive final period.
"I was just being aggressive," said Harden, who went 11-for-22 from the field. "I knew it was time where somebody needed someone to step up and that's what I'm here for."
Omer Asik continued his spectacular work on the glass with 17 rebounds. He is fourth in the NBA in rebounding.
All three of the Spurs consecutive victories came at home. They knocked off the Toronto Raptors, 100-80 on Wednesday night, led by the Big Three of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.
The Spurs' point guard is definitely impressed with their neighbors in the Lone Star State.
"They've been playing very well," said Parker. "They've had some big wins on the road. I'm sure they have momentum right now. They're playing great basketball, so it'll be a great test for us."
Friday night's contest should be an offensive battle. The Rockets lead the NBA in scoring at 105.3 ppg, while the Spurs are third at 104.9 ppg. The difference is the Spurs rank 15th in opponents' scoring, while the Rockets are a dismal 28th.
The Spurs travel to their other neighbor in Texas, the Dallas Mavericks, on Sunday. San Antonio has lost its last four on the road.
The Spurs are 2-0 this season against the Rockets with one win in San Antonio and one in Houston. The Spurs are 8-3 in their last 11 against Houston and the Rockets haven't won in Alamo City in their last six.
12/28 10:35:21 ET