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News » Warriors-Rockets Preview 2009-01-31

Warriors-Rockets Preview 2009-01-31

Warriors-Rockets Preview 2009-01-31
The presence of the Houston Rockets' three stars couldn't keep them from another bitter defeat.

But to keep from matching their longest skid this season, the Rockets must add to the Golden State Warriors' season-long road struggles.

Houston (28-19) will try to avoid its third straight loss on Saturday night as they face the Warriors (15-32), who are coming off a stunning upset win.

Injuries have kept the Rockets' Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady and Ron Artest from playing together for all but 24 games this season. Even the 7-foot-6 Yao's return after a two-game absence due to a sore right knee couldn't stop Houston from blowing another late lead.

In a 95-93 loss on Wednesday to visiting Philadelphia, the Rockets squandered a 14-point, second-half advantage. That came two days after a 104-98 road loss to the New York Knicks as Houston blew a nine-point lead with eight minutes left.

"I really don't have an answer," McGrady said. "We just got to keep on grinding, keep digging and find an answer for it. We've got to be better, a lot better."

Despite averaging 22.0 points over the past two games, McGrady has struggled to find his shot after coming back from injury, hitting just 37.5 percent (15-for-40) from the floor in that same span. Against the Sixers, he missed his final five shots, including all four attempts in the fourth quarter.

After scoring 24 points in his return on Sunday in a win at Detroit, Artest has also missed 22 of his last 29 shots.

McGrady has missed 16 games this season with knee problems, and Artest has sat out 13 with a nagging ankle injury.

While his teammates have struggled, Luis Scola has continued to shine especially in the last six games. He's averaging 19.2 points on 61.8 percent shooting and has posted consecutive double-doubles.

Houston last lost three straight from Jan. 2-6, all on the road.

Behind one of its best defensive efforts this season, Golden State won at New Orleans 91-87 on Friday. That broke an eight-game road losing streak and gave the Warriors only their fifth win in 26 games away from home in 2008-09.

The Warriors, who have given up a league-worst 111.8 points per game this season, limited the Hornets to 35.9 percent shooting. The 87 points were also the fewest given up by Golden State, which has surrendered 130 or more five times.

One of those times came in its previous trip to Houston, a 131-112 defeat on Dec. 5 as Yao scored 33 and Artest added 28 for the Rockets. Houston also hit a season-high 13 3-pointers in that game.

The Warriors' Corey Maggette led the way against the Hornets, scoring 12 of his team-leading 19 points in the final six minutes. With hamstring problems limiting the prized free-agent acquisition to 28 games this season, Maggette has made the switch from starter to key reserve seamlessly.

Coming off the bench in the last seven contests, the Warriors forward has averaged 21.3 points and shot 53.6 percent.

"This is the best option to help this team win," Maggette said. "We need some fire power off the bench. As a player, you've got to make sacrifices to try to win and try to make something happen to keep everyone happy."

The Rockets have won four straight over Golden State, including the past two meetings at the Toyota Center.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: January 31, 2009


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