NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, January 5th (All times Eastern)
Houston Rockets (19-14) at Cleveland Cavaliers (8-26),7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Houston Rockets will try for their fourth win in a row on Saturday night when they visit Quicken Loans Arena to face the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Rockets, the NBA's top scoring team at 106.1 ppg, spotted Milwaukee an 18- point lead in the second quarter Friday, but buried the Bucks 68-43 in the second half. The Rockets picked up the road win, 115-101 and James Harden led the way with 29 points.
Carlos Delfino played well against his former team with 22 points off the bench on 6-for-7 3-point shooting.
"I've said it all along: Carlos just plays," opined Rockets head coach Kevin McHale. "Carlos has no agenda when he plays. He's just a pro and a fun guy to be around. For our team, we're really, really young and Carlos is a nice stabilizing (presence). He's such a pro's pro."
Three other Rockets scored in double figures and for the first time in 13 years, three Houston players (Harden, Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons) recorded seven or more assists on the same night.
"That doesn't happen a whole bunch in our league so the ball was moving and we started making our shots," said McHale.
It's a shame the Rockets don't play in the Central Division. Their 19-14 mark would be good enough for a share of first place. Instead, Houston is six games behind the San Antonio Spurs.
The Rockets are a perfect 5-0 against the Central and a staggering 13-2 against the Eastern Conference.
If only the Cavaliers numbers were so good.
Cleveland played well on Friday night and ended a three-game losing streak with a 106-104 road win against the Charlotte Bobcats.
With the game tied, Kyrie Irving hit a step-back jumper with one second on the clock to give the Cavs the victory. Irving finished with a game-high 33 points, including 16 in the pivotal fourth quarter.
"I think he has the ultimate confidence in himself and his ability to get anywhere on the floor he feels he can get to," head coach Byron Scott said of his point guard. "Obviously he has that killer instinct to be able to take the last shot. He doesn't mind being the goat if he misses. He doesn't mind that whatsoever. It takes a lot of guts to take that shot."
Irving shot 10-for-21 from the floor and 10-for-10 from the foul line. He handed out six assists and grabbed five rebounds.
The Cavs were once again without center, and leading rebounder in the NBA, Anderson Varejao, but forward Tristan Thompson handled his rebounding load. Thompson pulled down 13 boards and scored 19 points.
The Cavaliers, who have two home games and a road contest in Chicago before a long west-coast trip, won last season's only matchup between the two teams. The Rockets are 12-5 in their last 17 against Cleveland.
01/05 10:23:55 ET