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Suns-Rockets Preview

The Houston Rockets have some-more than hold their possess in Dwight Howard’s absence, mostly due to James Harden’s fantastic play.

With other injuries pier up, though, Houston approaching needs Howard behind shortly if it wants to explain a Western Conference’s second seed.

The banged-up Rockets find a fourth true feat Saturday night opposite a visiting Phoenix Suns, whom they can brush for a initial time in bar history.

Harden is doing his best to lift Houston (46-22) in a bid to locate second-place Memphis. He scored a career-high 50 points in a 118-108 home win over Denver on Thursday while personification in front of former Rocket greats Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. It noted a initial 50-point opening for a authorization given Olajuwon scored 51 opposite Boston on Jan. 18, 1996.

Harden, whose 22 done giveaway throws were an NBA deteriorate high, is second in a NBA with 27.1 points per game. Houston is 25-4 when he scores 30-plus.

“We’re perplexing to build something special like they did (and) to play a diversion in front of them was unequivocally an honor,” Harden said.

The Rockets have left 16-8 with Howard sidelined due to flourishing in his right knee. Howard – averaging 16.3 points and 11.0 rebounds – hasn’t played given Jan. 23 yet returned to use recently and pronounced he’s “pretty close” to being prepared to play.

“I had a good 8 weeks of unequivocally training and operative on my physique and mentally we feel good, physically we feel good so we can’t wait to get behind on a floor,” he said.

Houston’s frontline is apropos increasingly thin, however. Terrence Jones left in a initial entertain opposite a Nuggets and is approaching to be out during slightest a week with a collapsed lung. Fellow brazen Kostas Papanikolaou has missed a final 13 games with an ankle injury.

In a backcourt, Jason Terry (hamstring) and Patrick Beverley (elbow bursitis) are listed as questionable. Terry has missed a final dual games.

Harden could be in for another large opening after scoring during slightest 30 6 times in his final 12 meetings with Phoenix. Houston won 3 meetings already this deteriorate with Harden totaling 73 in a final two.

Suns (36-33) have won 3 of four, yet their playoff chances are still slim – quite with a approach their offense has achieved recently. They’ve averaged 88.0 points on 41.6 percent sharpened over a final 6 games. Top scorer Eric Bledsoe was hold to 5 points and went 2 for 15 in a 74-72 home win over New Orleans on Thursday, Phoenix’s fewest points in a feat given a 74-71 win during Miami on Jan. 30, 1998.

Bledsoe, who also grabbed 11 rebounds, downplayed his bad shooting, however.

“If I’m not creation shots, don’t worry about it given we do so most to assistance my group win, that I’m going to do whatever,” he said.

Phoenix is traffic with some injuries of a own, as Brandon Knight (14.4 ppg) has missed a final 4 games due to a sprained ankle. Center Alex Len is also nursing an ankle damage and has missed dual games, yet Brandan Wright scored 16 and blocked a career-high 7 shots while starting in his place opposite a Pelicans.

The Rockets are 16-3 given Dec. 31.

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