The Brooklyn Nets are on the verge of a franchise-record home winning streak, thanks in part to an outstanding effort on the defensive end.
But they’ll have to pass one of their toughest tests against the Houston Rockets – even if Dwight Howard remains sidelined.
The Nets look to continue their push toward the playoffs with a 14th straight home victory Tuesday night, though they’ll have to snap a 14-game losing streak to the Rockets to reach that mark.
After getting booed on its home floor throughout its early season struggles, surging Brooklyn (39-33) now appears to be unstoppable at Barclays Center.
With a 114-99 victory over Minnesota on Sunday, the Nets tied the team-record home winning streak set in 2001-02 and matched the following season. They also equaled the longest home-court run in the NBA this season.
”First part of the season was rough on us with injuries and everything that we went through, and it feels good,” guard Deron Williams said. ”It feels good to be able to turn it around.”
The Nets have allowed 92.3 points and 43.7 percent shooting during a stretch in which they’ve held opponents under 100 points in 12 straight home games. Brooklyn held the Timberwolves 7.8 points below their season average after they had scored a franchise-record 143 in their previous victory.
With injured Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko not expected back until later in the week, the Nets face another difficult challenge against a Houston team that has scored 116.3 per game over its last six.
James Harden finished with 32 points and Chandler Parsons added 28 on Saturday, but the short-handed Rockets couldn’t maintain a 15-point advantage as their five-game winning streak came to an end in a 118-107 home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Houston (49-23) missed out on an opportunity to draw even with the Pacific Division-leading Clippers for third place in the Western Conference. The Rockets could again be missing a pair of starters with Howard day to day because of a left ankle strain and Pat Beverley out indefinitely after suffering a torn meniscus in his right knee.
”You can’t use that as an excuse,” said Parsons, who had 21 points in a 114-95 home win over Brooklyn on Nov. 29. ”Everybody goes through injuries.”
Harden has carried the scoring load with 31.5 points per game and 15-of-34 shooting from 3-point range over the last four. In the first meeting with the Nets, he had nine points on 1-of-4 shooting in 26 minutes after missing the previous three games with a sore foot.
That didn’t stop the Rockets from shooting 52.7 percent while making a season-high 19 3-pointers en route to a 14th straight victory in the series. They’ve won by an average of 15.8 points over that streak.
Brooklyn’s Paul Pierce scored 16 of his 22 in the first quarter against the Timberwolves. He’s totaled 33 points while going 10 for 10 from the field – 8 for 8 on 3-pointers – in 17 minutes over the last two first quarters.
The Nets, an East-best 29-12 since Jan. 1, have averaged 111.0 points while hitting 43 3-pointers over the last three games.