Inquirer Daily News


NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, March 22nd (All times Eastern)

Houston Rockets (46-22) at Cleveland Cavaliers (26-43), 7:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Rockets hope to have All-Star center Dwight Howard in the lineup Saturday, when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Howard has missed the last two games with a balky left ankle. Howard underwent an MRI and the results revealed a cyst that has bothered him for weeks.

"(The doctors) did some work on it yesterday," Howard said recently. "They got some of the fluid out. The cyst caused some problems, caused a lot of pain that I've been feeling for about two-and-a-half weeks, and after the Miami game I couldn't walk. So I just wanted to make sure everything was OK with it and that's when I found out I had a cyst."

Howard is averaging 18.6 points and 12.4 rebounds, and is listed as day-to-day against the Cavaliers. The Cavs know what it's like not to have one of the top players in the game because All-Star guard Kyrie Irving is sidelined with a strained left biceps.

The Rockets will try to take advantage of the Irving-less Cavs and still have James Harden, who leads the team with 24.6 points per game and had 28 in Thursday's 129-106 bashing of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Donatas Motiejunas and Chandler Parsons scored 20 and 19 points, respectively, for Houston, winners in seven of the last 10 games. Houston is 25-9 since the break.

Houston shot 58 percent from the floor and made 16-of-38 3-pointers. It also scored 26 points off 16 Minnesota turnovers and is third in the NBA with 106.7 points per game.

"I think we moved the ball really well," said Rockets guard Jeremy Lin, who ended with 11 points and 10 assists. "It was moving all night and guys were hitting shots, layups, threes."

Omer Asik made another start in Howard's place and netted 12 points.

The Rockets, winless in the last three games away from home, are 18-15 on the road and will close the brief trip Monday at Charlotte. They are currently fourth in the West standings -- 1 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Clippers -- and 20-5 against teams from the East.

Cleveland is from the Eastern Conference and has a 12-17 mark against teams from the West. It dropped a 102-95 decision to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday, as Kevin Durant scored 35 points on 12-of-21 shooting. Durant leads the NBA with 32.2 ppg.

"He shoots right over the top of the defense," Cavs coach Mike Brown said about Durant.

The Cavs were led by Dion Waiters' 30 points and Spencer Hawes added 20. Matthew Dellavedova finished with 11 points and 10 assists for Cleveland, which has lost three in a row and seven of nine games.

Cleveland is 15-19 at Quicken Loans Arena and will close out a three-game homestand Saturday versus Houston. It will visit New York on Sunday.

In injury news for the Cavs, forward Luol Deng is questionable versus the Rockets with an ankle sprain and has missed the last two games.

Houston defeated Cleveland 106-92 at home on Feb. 1. Harden and Howard scored 28 and 26 points, respectively, in that one for the Rockets, who have won three straight and nine of the past 12 contests in this series.

03/22 10:22:51 ET