Bobcats-Rockets Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 01, 2013
The Houston Rockets spent plenty of time on the road and didn't enjoy a particularly successful January. Perhaps a home game against the lowly Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday night will help Houston begin February on a positive note. The Rockets (25-23), who played 12 of their 17 games in January outside Houston, opened 2013 with four straight victories as part of a 12-3 stretch. However, they followed with a seven-game losing streak, the team's longest in seven years. Houston ended that skid Jan. 21 with a 100-94 victory over Charlotte (11-34), which suffered a franchise-record 15th straight home loss. The Rockets went on to sandwich two losses to Denver around a three-game win streak, ending the month with an 8-9 record. "You never want to lose. You especially don't want to lose when it's self-inflicted, and we did," coach Kevin McHale said after his team committed 22 turnovers in Wednesday's 118-110 road loss to the Nuggets. The Rockets, averaging a league-worst 16.6 turnovers, should be confident heading into this contest against a Charlotte team which has beaten only one above-.500 opponent since November. Plus, Houston has won four straight and 12 of 14 in the series, including seven in a row at home by an average of 16.9 points since losing the Bobcats' first visit in 2004. Charlotte comes to town sporting an 0-2 record on its five-game trip. After shooting 39.5 percent in Monday's 93-85 loss to Chicago, the Bobcats committed a season-high 24 turnovers Wednesday in a 102-78 defeat to league-best San Antonio. "They capitalized on all our mistakes," said Ben Gordon, who tied Kemba Walker with a team-worst five turnovers. The Bobcats' 10 turnovers last month versus Houston were their second-fewest of the season, and they held the Rockets to 39.2 percent shooting. Charlotte, though, will need to do a better job of keeping James Harden out of the lane. The first-time All-Star overcame a 5-of-20 performance from the field by taking 21 free throws - just three fewer than the Bobcats - and hitting 19 to finish with 29 points. Harden, fifth in the NBA with 25.9 points per game, leads the league in free throws made per game (8.7) and attempted (10.1). Walker, the Bobcats' scoring leader at 17.8 points per contest, set career highs with six 3-pointers and 35 points last month versus the Rockets. However, he missed 10 of 13 shots and scored six points in the Bobcats' last game in Houston, a 107-87 loss March 14. It was recently announced that Walker will return to Houston in two weeks along with rookie teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star weekend. Second-year player Chandler Parsons will represent the Rockets. Parsons is averaging 14.2 points after scoring 21 on Wednesday for Houston, the league's second-highest scoring team with 105.0 per game. The Rockets are averaging 113.5 points on 50.2 percent shooting during an eight-game home win streak against East opponents. Charlotte has lost six straight road games versus West teams by an average of 20.7 points.
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