Rockets going for 6th straight win Monday night

Rockets going for 6th straight win Monday night
December 1, 2013, 5:45 pm
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(USA Today)

James Harden appears to have returned to form after leading the high-scoring Houston Rockets to a statement-making victory during their best stretch so far.

Harden and the surging Rockets look for their sixth straight victory while trying to keep the host Jazz from winning consecutive contests for the first time Monday night.

Harden finished with a game-high 31 points to help Houston (13-5) snap a seven-game losing streak in San Antonio in Saturday's 112-106 victory.

The Rockets fell behind the Southwest Division-leading Spurs in the second half after leading by as many as 23 points, but rallied to score the game's last nine points.

"Last year we probably would have caved in; they would have beaten us by a lot," said Harden, who hit a key 3-pointer to tie the score with a minute remaining. "So, this year the improvement we've adjusted to has been tremendous."

The All-Star guard, among the league leaders with 23.6 points per game, missed three games because of an ongoing foot problem before finishing with a season-low nine points on 1-of-4 shooting in 25 minutes on Friday.

Even with Harden in and out of the lineup, the Rockets have continued to score at a high rate. They're averaging 111.6 points on 51.2 percent shooting - including 44.1 percent from 3-point range - while winning eight of nine.

Houston also has scored 113.3 per game with a 51.1 field-goal percentage during a four-game winning streak against the Jazz (3-15).

In the most recent meeting in Utah, Chandler Parsons had 24 points and 12 rebounds in a 104-93 win on Nov. 2. Parsons scored a season-high 25 on Saturday and has hit 10 of 14 from 3-point range in his last two games.

Utah rookie Trey Burke continues to improve after missing 12 games while recovering from surgery on his finger. He finished with a season-high 20 points, including two 3-pointers in the final four minutes, to lead the Jazz to a 112-104 victory at Phoenix on Saturday.

The ninth overall pick has averaged 15.7 points and made 7 of 15 from beyond the arc while helping Utah win two of three following a 1-14 start.

"He's learning a lot on the fly here," coach Tyrone Corbin told the league's official website.

On Saturday, Richard Jefferson had 15 and Marvin Williams and Derrick Favors added 14 apiece for Utah, which had dropped its first nine road games by an average of 14.5 points.

The Jazz, 2-6 at home, have shown improvement offensively behind Burke, reaching 100 points in back-to-back contests after scoring that many only once over their first 16.

They attempt to continue that trend against the Rockets, who have given up an average of 111.7 points over their last seven road games.

Houston's Dwight Howard looks to get on track after averaging just 12.4 points and 9.2 rebounds over his last five games.

Jeremy Lin, who had 20 points in the first meeting with the Jazz, is expected to miss at least two weeks with a sprained right knee.

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