Road-tested Spurs a tough test for Rockets

Road-tested Spurs a tough test for Rockets
December 10, 2012, 10:00 am
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Rockets look to improve from Friday's loss

For the second time in four days, the Rockets will face the San Antonio Spurs.

This time, however, the game will be at home, where the Rockets have been markedly better at 7-4 as opposed to 2-6 away from the Toyota Center.

Unfortunately for the Rockets, the Spurs are the league's best road team at 10-2. And Houston may be without James Harden, who did not practice on Sunday because of an ankle he hurt during the first half of Saturday's Mavericks game. After Sunday's practice, Kevin McHale said Harden would be a gametime decision.

If Harden can't go on Monday night, it leaves the Rockets without their top scoring option and the league's fifth top scoring option at 24.7 points a game. Harden's also coming off a two-game stretch where he averaged 34 points on 20-33 (60.6%) shooting. This included a 29-point outing on Friday night against the Spurs, a night when it seemed like the rest of the Rockets struggled to make their shots.

The Spurs don't come in at full health either. Defensive stalwart Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson will not be playing. DeJuan Blair sat out Saturday's blowout 132-102 win over the Bobcats with an ankle injury. He could be back Monday against the Rockets.

Of course, this is a Spurs team that is so deep that they almost beat the Heat even without Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Danny Green in the lineup. San Antonio's league-best 17 wins are also showing the team's superiority over the vast majority of the league. They're winning by an average of 12.8 points. The last time the Spurs played Houston, the game was in San Antonio, and the score was 114-92 in the Spurs' favor. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the regulars on both sides were no longer in the game.

The Rockets hope history doesn't repeat itself.

That just may be harder if Harden isn't in the lineup.