Suns try for second straight win over Rockets
By JUSTIN EINHORN
STATS Senior Editor
Recent inconsistency hasn't helped the Houston Rockets' playoff chances. They should be happy that one thing will remain consistent over the next two weeks - the arena they'll play in.
Following a lackluster road trip, the Rockets open a seven-game homestand looking to avenge last weekend's loss to the lowly Phoenix Suns and spoil the return to Houston for Goran Dragic and Luis Scola.
The Rockets (34-30) have not put together more than two straight wins or two consecutive losses in splitting their last 14 games. What they have done on a regular basis is win at home, going 13-4 over the past three months.
They won't leave home again until visiting Memphis on March 29, good news for a team which is seventh in the Western Conference but being chased closely by Utah and the Lakers.
"We can't blame anybody for anything that happens from here on out," Jeremy Lin told the team's official website. "We have no excuses. We have a great schedule so it's in our hands. That's what we want so we're just going to control what we can control. All I know is if we keep winning, if we put together a win streak, then no one will ever catch us."
Lin might be particularly pleased to be home for a while. He's averaged 20.8 points on 54.8 percent shooting over the past five there. Lin hasn't scored more than 15 in 10 straight road games, shooting 37.9 percent.
Houston has won six of seven home games while averaging 121.6 points. The Rockets' scoring average during a recently completed 1-2 road trip was 102.3, and they shot below 45 percent from the field in each game - that happened once in the previous 17.
"The homestand means nothing if we don't play well," coach Kevin McHale said.
McHale was particularly annoyed by his team's 21 turnovers and Phoenix's 24 second-chance points off 17 offensive rebounds Saturday as the Rockets fell 107-105.
It was the teams' first meeting this season and third straight win in the series for the Suns (22-42).
"We can't look at the Phoenix Suns and their roster," said James Harden, who had 38 points. "We've got to go out there and compete and play hard every possession. Times like this, we need wins."
Dragic had 18 points but only one assist, though his average of 9.5 assists since the All-Star break is among the league's best. He had eight points on 3-of-9 shooting Monday in a 108-93 loss to Denver.
The offseason signing of Lin meant the Rockets no longer needed Dragic, who started their final 26 games last season while averaging 18.2 points and 8.3 assists. The Suns re-signed him this summer just days after landing Scola, who played his first five seasons in Houston.
There should be a warm reception for Scola, who became known for his toughness as he averaged 14.5 points and 7.7 rebounds with the Rockets. Scola has struggled in five games this month, averaging 8.2 points on 32.4 percent shooting.
Former teammate Chandler Parsons is looking to bounce back from his 14-point, 5-of-16 shooting performance Saturday. He averaged 24.3 points on 63.6 percent shooting in the previous six.
Omer Asik has posted nine consecutive double-figure rebounding games and grabbed 16 on Saturday, but the Rockets were beaten 47-39 on the glass even with Phoenix missing centers Marcin Gortat (foot) and Jermaine O'Neal. Gortat remains out, but O'Neal rejoined the team this week and may play after missing four games due to his daughter undergoing heart surgery.