Rockets-Jazz Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 27, 2013
The Houston Rockets appear to be back on track after their longest losing streak of the season, but their next challenge will be a difficult one. A third consecutive victory won't come easy Monday night as the Rockets try to prevent the Utah Jazz from a seventh straight home win. Houston (24-22) has won two in a row and three of four after a seven-game skid. The Rockets' offense was slowed down during the slump, averaging 93.3 points per game compared to their 104.4 mark on the season, which is tied for second in the NBA. But the Rockets are averaging 103.5 over their last four games, including a 119-106 win against Brooklyn on Saturday. James Harden scored 29 points as Houston claimed significant advantages in rebounding (50-31) and points in the paint (60-24). Jeremy Lin credited a film session on Thursday for helping right the ship. "We weren't doing what we were supposed to do," said Lin, who had 14 points and nine assists. "The coaches showed us a few days ago what we can look like. That was a nice reminder to all of us." Houston also had 31 assists - one shy of a season high - and only 12 turnovers, its fewest since Jan. 2. Seventeen of the team's first 20 field goals were assisted. "Our spacing was unbelievable," said Chandler Parsons, whose 11 assists were a career high. "It allowed more guys to penetrate, it allowed more guys to have open shots and we really moved the ball great." The Rockets' transition offense had slowed during the losing streak, averaging 15.4 fast-break points over seven games. They're up to 24.0 fast-break ppg in the last four, including 27 in the win against the Nets. "It's how we need to play," coach Kevin McHale said. "But we've got to be determined to do it. You've got to be determined when you're tired. You've got to be determined when things aren't going (well), you've got to be determined to just keep on going." The Jazz (24-20) have won five of six overall and six in a row at home, matching the season-best streak they started the year with. They're 15-4 at EnergySolutions Arena where they average 102.2 ppg while allowing 95.7, numbers that are nearly flipped on the road at 95.8 and 101.0. Utah's home streak appeared to be in jeopardy on Saturday when they went to overtime against the Pacers after blowing an eight-point lead with less than three minutes left in regulation. The collapse saw Gordon Hayward turn it over on each of the Jazz's final three possessions, but they eventually claimed a 114-110 victory. "We made some mistakes, and we've got to get better there," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "But the fight these guys showed and have shown all year is really encouraging." Hayward is day-to-day after spraining his shoulder when he ran into a hard screen, though x-rays were negative. His six turnovers tied a career high. "You have to move on," said Hayward, Utah's third-leading scorer at 13.5 ppg. "You can't worry about the past. My teammates did a good job of bailing me out from some bad plays." Hayward scored a game-high 21 off the bench but Utah lost 124-116 at Houston on Dec. 1. The Jazz held the Rockets to 34.9 percent from the field in a 102-91 victory on Nov. 19 as part of their season-opening six-game home streak.
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