James Harden appears to have returned to form after leading the
high-scoring Houston Rockets to a statement-making victory during
their best stretch so far.
Harden and the surging Rockets look for their sixth straight
victory while trying to keep the host Jazz from winning consecutive
contests for the first time Monday night.
Harden finished with a game-high 31 points to help Houston
(13-5) snap a seven-game losing streak in San Antonio in Saturday’s
The Rockets fell behind the Southwest Division-leading Spurs in
the second half after leading by as many as 23 points, but rallied
to score the game’s last nine points.
“Last year we probably would have caved in; they would have
beaten us by a lot,” said Harden, who hit a key 3-pointer to tie
the score with a minute remaining. “So, this year the improvement
we’ve adjusted to has been tremendous.”
The All-Star guard, among the league leaders with 23.6 points
per game, missed three games because of an ongoing foot problem
before finishing with a season-low nine points on 1-of-4 shooting
in 25 minutes on Friday.
Even with Harden in and out of the lineup, the Rockets have
continued to score at a high rate. They’re averaging 111.6 points
on 51.2 percent shooting – including 44.1 percent from 3-point
range – while winning eight of nine.
Houston also has scored 113.3 per game with a 51.1 field-goal
percentage during a four-game winning streak against the Jazz
In the most recent meeting in Utah, Chandler Parsons had 24
points and 12 rebounds in a 104-93 win on Nov. 2. Parsons scored a
season-high 25 on Saturday and has hit 10 of 14 from 3-point range
in his last two games.
Utah rookie Trey Burke continues to improve after missing 12
games while recovering from surgery on his finger. He finished with
a season-high 20 points, including two 3-pointers in the final four
minutes, to lead the Jazz to a 112-104 victory at Phoenix on
The ninth overall pick has averaged 15.7 points and made 7 of 15
from beyond the arc while helping Utah win two of three following a
“He’s learning a lot on the fly here,” coach Tyrone Corbin told
the league’s official website.
On Saturday, Richard Jefferson had 15 and Marvin Williams and
Derrick Favors added 14 apiece for Utah, which had dropped its
first nine road games by an average of 14.5 points.
The Jazz, 2-6 at home, have shown improvement offensively behind
Burke, reaching 100 points in back-to-back contests after scoring
that many only once over their first 16.
They attempt to continue that trend against the Rockets, who
have given up an average of 111.7 points over their last seven road
Houston’s Dwight Howard looks to get on track after averaging
just 12.4 points and 9.2 rebounds over his last five games.
Jeremy Lin, who had 20 points in the first meeting with the
Jazz, is expected to miss at least two weeks with a sprained right