Cavaliers-Rockets Preview

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ 13-game winning streak against Western

Conference opponents is over.

One night after seeing it snapped, they must pay a visit to the

club that dealt them the final loss before that streak.

LeBron James looks to help the Cavs shake off the memory of both

their latest loss and an ugly performance from last season when

they face the Houston Rockets on Wednesday to conclude a three-game

road trip.

Cleveland (15-6) won its final eight games against the West last

regular season and captured its first five interconference meetings

in 2009-10 by an average of 12.0 points before heading to Memphis

on Tuesday.

Leading by 11 at halftime, the Cavaliers appeared on their way

to another convincing win. Instead, the Grizzlies came back to win

111-109 in overtime despite a season-high 43 points, 13 rebounds

and six assists from James.

James also had five of Cleveland’s 21 turnovers.

“They got up into us defensively,” Cavaliers coach Mike Brown

said. “When they did that, we had some bad turnovers that gave them

easy dunks in transition.”

James, who ranks sixth in the league with 8.2 assists per game,

had become even more of a distributor during Cleveland’s four-game

overall win streak prior to visiting Memphis, recording double

digit assists in four straight games for the first time in his

career.

Another first for James – one that he and the Cavaliers would

love to forget – came Feb. 26 in Houston. The Rockets (11-9) held

James to 21 points, one rebound and his first career zero-assist

game in a 93-74 victory.

“I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have an assist, but as

a team, we didn’t move the ball at all,” James said.

The Cavaliers’ 10 team assists were their fewest since being

held to seven in a 94-76 loss at Portland on Jan. 17, 2007.

Houston has been an unpleasant place for James and the Cavs.

Cleveland has averaged 71.3 points while losing three straight in

Houston by an average of 17.4 points, and shot 28.2 percent in an

81-63 loss there Dec. 2, 2006 – flirting with the team record for

fewest points (59) in a game.

James is a 37.1 percent career shooter in six games in Houston.

Only his 22.2-point average versus the Los Angeles Clippers is

lower than his 23.1 against the Rockets.

“You try to make him a jump shooter if you can,” Houston coach

Rick Adelman said Monday.

This is the Rockets’ lone home game in a stretch of six of seven

on the road. They’d won the first three before losing 90-89 at

Portland on Saturday. Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy scored his

team’s final 10 points down the stretch.

Point guard Aaron Brooks struggled in the loss, scoring a

season-low six points. Brooks is averaging only 4.8 points per game

and shooting 25.0 percent in four career games against

Cleveland.

Shane Battier figures to draw the bulk of the work defending

James, but a few points from Houston’s small forward could pay

dividends. The Rockets are 6-3 when Battier – averaging 8.4 points

– scores nine or more.