Rockets and Thunder set for rematch

Rockets and Thunder set for rematch
January 16, 2014, 1:00 pm
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(USA Today Images)

Know Your Foe: Thunder-Rockets

The Rockets should have the thought of payback on their minds when they welcome Oklahoma City to town. The Thunder embarrassed them earlier this season, posting their largest margin of victory in a 117-86 win on Dec. 29. Also, the Thunder ended the Rockets season last year in Houston with a game six victory, 103-94, to end their first round series in last year’s playoffs.

Oklahoma City opened the game in December with a 13-0 run and held the Rockets scoreless for over six minutes to start the game and the Rockets never had a chance after that. The Rockets starting backcourt of Jeremy Lin and James Harden combined to score just 14 points with each making just 2-of-9 shots. The Rockets leading scorer that night was Aaron Brooks off the bench with 17 points. Brooks hopes to be ready for Thursday night's game after missing Wednesday night’s game with knee tendinitis.

Who are the Thunder?

The Thunder are just 3-5 in their last eight games and 5-5 since Russell Westbrook underwent another surgery on his right knee. Kevin Durant continues to elevate his game, averaging 35 points in his last four games. But the Thunder have won just once in those four games and that was their one home game of the four. Durant has also only made 6-of-29 3-pointers in those four games. He’s the NBA’s leading scorer at 29.8 points per game and is way out front with Carmelo Anthony a distant second at 26 points per game.

Oklahoma City has struggled away from home against the western conference at just 7-7 and have lost three straight on the road overall. Oklahoma City is 6-3 in games following a loss this season and 38-10 in such games since the start of the 2011-12 season, which is the second-best mark in the NBA.

One interesting note about the game: Houston will be playing the second game of its 11th back-to-back set of games this season. Oklahoma City will be playing the first game of just their sixth set of back-to-back games. Houston has 20 sets of back-to-back this season, while Oklahoma City has just 15.

Former Rockets first round draft pick Jeremy Lamb scored a career-high 22 points against Houston when the team met on Dec. 29. He’s averaging 9.9 points per game this season. Reggie Jackson set a career high in assists with eight, in the last meeting and is averaging 12.8 points and 3.7 assists per game this season.

Thunder’s Last Game

Oklahoma City lost to Memphis on Tuesday, 90-87. Kevin Durant scored 38 points on 15-of-28 shooting, but with the Thunder down three points and 12 seconds remaining, he dove into the lane and instead of trying to close within one, he passed out to Serge Ibaka who attempted a game-tying 3-pointer. The shot missed its mark. Memphis shot just 40 percent in the game. It was the 59th time the Thunder held their opponents to 42 percent or less field goal shooting. It’s just their fifth loss in such games (54-5)