Rockets-Warriors Preview

The Houston Rockets are gaining confidence, and success in the

remainder of this three-game road trip will only keep it that way.

Facing two more struggling opponents may be just what they


The Rockets attempt to continue their December surge when they

face the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on Monday night.

Houston (12-15) has won seven of 10 games this month, including

four of the last five.

Despite that success, the club is 4-11 on the road this season

while giving up an average of 108.0 points.

The Rockets have a great chance to begin improving on that poor

record after opening this three-game West Coast swing with a 102-93

win at Sacramento on Sunday.

“We’re a confident bunch right now. December has been our

turnaround month,” said guard Kevin Martin, who scored 22 points

against his former club Sunday. “We’re in a nice little rhythm

right now.”

That rhythm may only continue, as this trip features games

against three of the bottom four teams in the Western


After facing Golden State (9-17), which has won once in its last

six home games, the Rockets visit the Los Angeles Clippers on


“Our road record is pretty tough,” said guard Kyle Lowry, who

had 13 points and seven assists Sunday. “We have to find ways to

get wins.”

Houston has won 10 of the last 11 meetings with Golden State.

However, the lone loss in that span was a 132-128 defeat in Oakland

on Oct. 27, when Warriors guard Monta Ellis matched a career high

with 46 points.

The Rockets took the most recent matchup at home on Nov. 24,

winning 111-101 behind 25 points from Martin.

Martin, the team leader with 23.1 points per game, is averaging

26.4 points on 51.2 percent shooting over the last five games,

helping the Rockets rack up 107.6 points per contest.

Houston’s offense could get an even bigger boost once point

guard Aaron Brooks is back in the starting lineup.

Brooks came off the bench Sunday and scored nine points with one

assist in 15 minutes. He missed the previous 21 games with a stress

fracture in his left ankle after averaging 16.4 points in the first

five of 2010-11, including 13 with seven assists at Golden State in


The NBA’s most improved player last season, Brooks is scoring

20.3 points per game over his last six meetings with the


“I think it’s a work in progress for Aaron to get going again

because he missed so many games,” Martin said. “He’s coming back

from injury and all that stuff. His legs are going to get under him

and we expect more great things out of him.”

Golden State is mired in a 2-13 stretch that has seen it allow

opponents to score a whopping 108.9 points per contest.

The Warriors’ struggles continued Saturday, as they lost 96-95

at Portland when Ellis missed a jumper with 0.8 seconds left.

“We did everything we could to win the game, that is the good

thing about it,” Ellis said. “We have to continue to fight hard,

play together.”

Ellis, Golden State’s leader with 24.5 points per game, had 34

points in a 108-99 win over Minnesota on Tuesday and has totaled 60

points over the last two games after accumulating 55 while shooting

37.9 percent in the previous three – all losses.