Warriors-Rockets Preview

With their postseason hopes quickly continuing to fade, the

slumping Houston Rockets know they’re running out of time to get

back on track.

A visit from the woeful Golden State Warriors could be coming at

just the right time.

Looking to climb back into the Western Conference playoff

picture, the Rockets try to avoid a seventh consecutive defeat for

the first time in six seasons Saturday night against the Warriors,

losers of seven straight overall and seven in a row at the Toyota


Houston (32-31), which sat in sixth place in the West following

a 94-89 win at Portland on April 9, has since allowed 107.2 points

per contest in dropping six in a row to fall into 10th place in the

conference. The Rockets haven’t lost seven straight since Jan.

6-18, 2006.

“I mean, it’s sad because on the 9th when we beat Portland, we

were in a great position to lock this thing in to the playoffs,”

said coach Kevin McHale, whose team sits one game behind Phoenix

and Utah for the eighth and final berth.

“Now, we’re on the outside looking in, but it doesn’t change the

fact that we gotta go play (Saturday) night.”

The Suns, Jazz and Rockets all have three games remaining.

Phoenix hosts Denver on Saturday and Utah is home to Orlando.

Houston saw its struggles continue during Thursday’s 105-99

overtime loss at lowly New Orleans. The Rockets, who blew a

13-point, second-quarter lead, were outrebounded 57-40 and shot

41.6 percent from the field.

“A very tough one for us. We needed this one (Thursday) to

hopefully try to get back in the playoffs,” said Chase Budinger,

who matched a season best with 22 points. “This one definitely

hurts everybody, hurts our team and hurts our chances. … You can

never give up. There’s definitely still hope for us. You’ve just

got to win out and hope that other teams lose.”

Despite its skid, Houston has to like its chances of regrouping

against Golden State (22-40). The Rockets have dominated the

Warriors over their seven-game home winning streak, during which

they’ve posted a whopping 117.4 points per contest.

After falling 106-97 at Golden State on Feb. 12, Houston

prevailed 109-83 at home March 22 for its 13th win in 15 overall

meetings in the series.

The Warriors are coming off their 14th loss in 16 games, falling

104-94 at Dallas on Friday in the first leg of a

back-to-back-to-back stretch.

While Golden State was outrebounded 52-35, coach Mark Jackson

was pleased with his team’s performance against the defending


“I thought it was an outstanding effort when you look at the

team we put on the floor,” Jackson said. “We found a way to hang in

until the fourth quarter when they got some separation.”

Starting alongside fellow rookies Jeremy Tyler, Mickell Gladness

and Charles Jenkins, Klay Thompson continued his impressive play

with 26 points on 11-of-22 shooting. The 11th overall pick in this

season’s draft is averaging 24.0 points over his last five


“Our main goal is to finish strong and compete,” said veteran

swingman Dorrell Wright, who rounds out the starting five. “It’s a

learning process with four rookies starting.”

The Warriors, who have been outscored by an average of 15.3

points during their seven-game skid, were last handed eight

straight losses during a nine-game slide Jan. 23-Feb. 8, 2010.