Suns-Rockets Preview

The Houston Rockets are looking to get untracked, and a return

home could be just what they need.

The Rockets go for their longest home winning streak in nearly

three years when they open their season series with the Phoenix

Suns on Wednesday night.

Houston (13-6) was on a roll, winning five in a row and eight of

nine before falling 109-103 at Western Conference-worst Utah on

Monday. That was a major letdown after beating Southwest

Division-leading San Antonio 112-106 on the road two days

earlier.

“We just didn’t defend. We go through mental lapses where we

don’t lock down on the defensive end. We gave up too many points to

fight our way back,” guard James Harden said.

A return home could give the Rockets a lift.

They’re 8-2 at Toyota Center, winning six in a row while

averaging 113.3 points and shooting 47.5 percent from 3-point range

– almost 10 percent higher than their season mark.

Houston hasn’t put together a longer run at home since winning

seven in a row March 14-April 3, 2011.

Harden will likely be key to matching that streak after totaling

68 points and 14 assists while hitting 53.7 percent from the field

– 6 of 14 from long range – over the past two games. He had a

season-high 37 points against the Jazz, scoring 15 in the fourth

quarter.

Harden’s recent production may only continue with a meeting

against the Suns (9-9). He’s averaging 29.2 points while shooting

46.7 percent from 3-point range over his last six matchups.

He scored 33 in a 101-98 victory in the most recent meeting in

Houston on April 9.

The Rockets have won four of five at home against Phoenix, and

potentially having Chandler Parsons back could help continue that

success.

The forward had 25 points against the Spurs before back spasms

sidelined him Monday. He scored 24 points with seven assists while

shooting 8 of 13 from the field in a 119-112 road defeat to the

Suns on April 15.

Phoenix is dealing with its own struggles, falling 110-91 at

Memphis on Tuesday after losing 112-104 at home to the Jazz on

Saturday. The Suns will likely need an improved effort in the

second half in order to avoid a third straight loss.

They blew an eight-point, halftime lead while being outscored

64-37 in the second half against the Grizzlies, shooting 36.8

percent from the floor – 3 of 14 from behind the arc.

“The second half was terrible,” coach Jeff Hornacek said. “We

have to be able to fight over screens. We have to get after it. We

let their guy just shove you in the back. If we have no more fight

than that, what else can you do?”

Production from Eric Bledsoe, the team leader with 18.8 points

per game, would certainly help. The guard had nine points while

missing nine of 13 attempts from the field, including all three

from long range, against Memphis.

Bledsoe’s averaging 13.7 points in three games after missing six

with a bruised shin. He’s managed just 7.0 in four career visits to

Houston, scoring two points in each of the last two overall

meetings while with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Suns point guard Goran Dragic had 21 points and 14 assists in

the April 15 meeting.