Nuggets-Rockets Preview

The Houston Rockets are hoping to build up momentum after clinching a playoff berth last time out.

Facing the slumping Denver Nuggets twice in four days could help them do just that.

The Rockets go for a 13th win in 14 home games when they face the road-challenged Nuggets on Sunday night.

James Harden scored 39 points as Houston (50-25) snapped a season high-tying three-game losing streak with Friday’s 111-107 victory over Oklahoma City. Chandler Parsons scored 23 and Terrence Jones added 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Rockets, who are headed back to the postseason for the second straight year.

"It was a great win for us … just to give ourselves confidence, especially going into the playoffs," said Harden, who added nine boards and seven assists. "We might see (the Thunder). It was a big win for us. It shows the resilience we have."

Though they haven’t played their best of late, the Rockets are still two games ahead of Portland for fourth place in the Western Conference.

"There’s all kind of adversity in playoff games and playoff runs," coach Kevin McHale said. "You’ve got to be resilient and that’s what I’ve been preaching with the guys and the coaching staff. You’ve just got to stay in the fight and keep swinging. When we do that, we’re OK."

Getting back to full strength would surely help Houston, which has played the last four games without starting point guard Patrick Beverley (knee) and Dwight Howard (ankle). Beverley isn’t likely to be available Sunday, and Howard’s status remains uncertain.

"It shows a lot of toughness and a lot of fight," Jones said of the team’s ability to overcome injuries. "Guys (are) just doing all the little things for us to win."

Houston had dropped seven straight to Denver before winning 122-111 on Nov. 16 in the only previous matchup this season. Howard and Parsons combined for 45 points but Harden was held to 17 while shooting 5 of 16.

Harden is averaging 18.0 points in five meetings against the Nuggets since the start of 2012-13, his lowest mark against any team during that time. The Rockets are 5-10 this season when Harden scores 18 or fewer.

Houston, among the highest-scoring teams in the NBA with 106.8 points per game, has averaged 114.1 during a 12-1 run at home. That doesn’t bode well for the Nuggets (33-43), who have dropped five straight and 13 of 16 on the road.

Denver’s five-game losing streak away from home is its longest since a six-game slide Dec. 8-28, 2009.

The Nuggets are coming off Friday’s 100-92 loss at Memphis, their fifth in six games overall. Randy Foye had 21 points and nine rebounds, but Denver committed 20 turnovers to the Grizzlies’ 12.

"It was kind of an ugly game," said coach Brian Shaw, whose team has lost 23 straight when failing to score 100 points. "We’re just trying to play hard and doing what we can to get the win."

Ty Lawson, who didn’t start for disciplinary reasons, scored 16 points before exiting with a sprained ankle late in the fourth quarter. He left the arena in a boot, leaving his status for this contest in doubt.

"That is just, unfortunately, been the story of our season," Shaw said of the injury.

Lawson has averaged 23.4 points in his last five in Houston. He scored 28 to go with a career high-tying 17 assists in November’s defeat.

The Nuggets and Rockets meet again Wednesday night in Denver.