Rockets-Nets Preview

The Houston Rockets’ pursuit of a playoff berth hit a snag in

their last game against one of the best teams in the Eastern

Conference.

The Rockets will try to bounce back against one of the East’s

worst clubs Tuesday night when they visit the New Jersey Nets

looking for a 10th consecutive win in the series.

Houston (38-35) climbed into ninth place in the Western

Conference thanks in part to a season high-tying five-game winning

streak March 14-23.

That run, though, came to an end Sunday with a 125-119 loss at

Miami, and the Rockets fell 2 1/2 games behind eighth-place Memphis

after the Grizzlies defeated San Antonio 111-104 that night.

Houston, which has won 12 of 16 while averaging 109.1 points,

trailed for 7:12 of the first quarter – 2:09 more than it trailed

in its previous five games combined.

“Now the challenge is responding in New Jersey,” coach Rick

Adelman told the Rockets’ official website. “We gave what we could

and came up short and now you’ve got to regroup and try to come

back and get that game Tuesday and go from there.”

Kevin Martin, first on Houston with 23.2 points per game, had 29

on Sunday. Point guard Kyle Lowry, averaging 21.5 points in his

last four contests, scored 25.

“We gave it all we had and we played hard but we didn’t execute

well enough to win,” said Martin, averaging 32.3 points over his

last three. “We’ll work on that and then get the next two games on

the road trip.”

Houston, which ends its three-game trek Wednesday night against

Philadelphia, has lost three of four away from home after winning

six straight.

Luis Scola had 28 points Sunday, and the 6-foot-9 forward scored

a career-high 44 on 20-of-25 shooting with 12 rebounds in a 116-108

win over New Jersey on March 13, 2010.

He had 23 and seven, respectively, while Martin added 30 points

in a 123-108 win Feb. 26 – Houston’s 12th in 13 games against the

Nets.

The Rockets have taken seven straight road meetings in the

series by an average of 12.9 points while limiting the Nets to 82.7

per game.

New Jersey (23-49) suffered its sixth defeat in seven games

Saturday night, 98-87 at Atlanta. The Nets are averaging 89.7

points over those seven contests.

After trailing by as many as 30 in the third quarter, New Jersey

battled back as swingman Anthony Morrow scored 10 of his 25 points

in the fourth.

“They never quit,” coach Avery Johnson said. “Our second half

was something to behold, to come from way back on the road. The

guys were battling. … But there are no moral victories.”

Center Brook Lopez, scoring a team-best 19.7 points per game,

had six on 3-of-9 shooting.

Deron Williams missed his fifth consecutive game with an injured

right wrist, and he is unlikely to play Tuesday. Williams had 15

points and 17 assists in last month’s meeting.