Rockets look to start new winning streak against Cavaliers

The Houston Rockets encountered difficulties in a home-and-home set with the Detroit Pistons and saw their longest winning streak of the season come to a disappointing end Friday.

After getting their five-game winning streak halted, the Rockets attempt to begin another winning streak when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night.

Houston barely kept the streak going by holding on for a 126-124 win on Wednesday when James Harden scored 43 points. Two nights later, the Rockets took a 116-111 overtime loss in Detroit.

Harden scored 33 points while Clint Capela added 29 points and 21 rebounds, but the Rockets could not get a defensive stop in overtime after barely getting to overtime. The Rockets tied Friday’s game on a layup by Eric Gordon with one-tenth of a second remaining after Detroit’s Blake Griffin hit a 31-footer with 2.6 seconds left.

“We just couldn’t get stops, man,” Harden told reporters after going scoreless in overtime and shooting 9 of 27 from the floor. “In foul trouble, I couldn’t be as aggressive as I wanted to. We had mental mistakes, errors, turnovers.”

Harden is right as the Rockets only scored 19 points in the fourth quarter and allowed Detroit to make all five of its shots and 7 of 9 free throws in overtime.

“We had a chance to win, close the game out,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We had our 3s and missed. Blake hit his. Kind of the difference in the game. Then we just couldn’t get any stops.”

Despite the tough loss, it appears the Rockets are recovering from their rocky 1-5 start. Starting with a 116-111 win over the Brooklyn Nets, Houston is 8-3 in its last 11 games and averaged 117.8 points during the winning streak.

Cleveland is trying to get consecutive wins for the third time this season after recording a 121-112 win at Philadelphia on Friday. The Cavaliers shot 52.7 percent, their second-best shooting percentage of the season, while handing the 76ers their first home loss of the season.

“I thought our guys came out at the start of the game and really dictated the pace of the game,” Cleveland coach Larry Drew said. “Offensively, I thought we did a really good job of executing. We talked about making sure we take care of the ball, and I thought we did that for the most part. We were able to sustain for four quarters, which we have not been able to do thus far this year. Tonight, we were able to start it and finish it on a real positive note.”

The Cavaliers are hoping their third try at getting consecutive wins goes better than the first two.

After winning their first game on Oct. 30, Cleveland followed it up by shooting 41 percent in a 19-point loss to Denver. After winning their second game by routing Charlotte 113-89 on Nov. 13, the Cavaliers were hammered by 24 at Washington the next night.

The Cavaliers are hoping to get continued effectiveness from Jordan Clarkson and Rodney Hood. On Friday, Hood scored 25 points while Clarkson added 14 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter when Cleveland totaled 37 points.

Cleveland is also hoping to get another solid showing from rookie Collin Sexton. Sexton scored 23 points, one shy of his career high, and is averaging 18.2 points in his last seven games.

“Actually we are on the right track, but just can’t get the wins, especially in those crucial minutes,” Cleveland forward Cedi Osman said. “We’re kind of getting too excited but you know, we were coming. We know they were coming and tonight we had a great game as a team because they’re really good, and we’re really happy with the results of this game, especially against Philly. They’re a really good team and we played our best game.”

Houston is 10-2 in the last 12 meetings with Cleveland. Last season the Rockets averaged 118.5 points and Harden averaged 25.5 points in a sweep of the season series.