Preview: Rockets at Bucks
The Houston Rockets will look to match a season-high with their fifth consecutive win against the lowly Bucks in Milwaukee on Saturday. Houston has seven wins in its last 10 outings and is 12-4 in 2014 while keeping its collective eye on the big picture. "I have never seen them give out trophies for the best record in January," coach Kevin McHale told the Houston Chronicle, adding, "Most teams that won championships played well in March and April.â
Milwaukee wasted a career-high 25 points from Larry Sanders on Wednesday as the Bucks fell to the Nuggets in Denver, failing to follow up on Monday's win over New York. Possessing the league's worst record and without back-to-back wins this entire season, Milwaukee's focus is clearly on the future and Sanders' most recent effort, which coach Larry Drew called "phenomenal," along with the recent emergence of rookie forward Giannis Antetokuonmpo have been rare bright spots for the Bucks. "He's going to be an All-Star in five years," NBA legend Charles Barkley said recently of Antetokuonmpo.
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (33-17): Dwight Howard's 34 points and 14 rebounds led Houston to a 122-108 win over Phoenix last time out and teammate James Harden praised the effort. "Dwight did a good job of carrying us throughout the entire game," Harden told reporters. Howard is averaging 26 points and 10.3 rebounds during the Rockets' current four-game winning streak while shooting 59.3 percent from the field. Harden's 23.8 points leads Houston and ranks seventh in the NBA, while Howard's team-best 12.4 rebounds is good for fourth leaguewide.
ABOUT THE BUCKS (9-40): After missing significant time stemming from a thumb injury sustained in an October bar fight, Sanders' breakout showing against Denver was a welcome jolt to an otherwise dreary season. Drew said of Sanders' season high 15 boards, "He really attacked the glass and rebounded the ball." Drew also noted a change in Sanders' demeanor overall. "Early, he played through some situations where normally he would have lost his composure," Drew told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The fourth year pro is averaging eight points and 7.3 rebounds in 22 games this season.
1. Howard has notched at least 30 points and 10 rebounds five times this season - the most for a Rocket since C Yao Ming accomplished the feat six times in 2007-08.
2. Milwaukee, which plays 11 of its next 14 games at home, is on pace for 15 wins on the season, which would break the franchise record low of 20 set in 1993-94.
3. The Rockets drained 11-of-16 3-pointers against Phoenix for their best performance from beyond the arc this season (68.8 percent).
PREDICTION: Rockets 104, Bucks 97