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Reply To: NBA • Thursday Service Plays • 1/7/16

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Preview: Utah At Houston

When: 8:00 PM ET, Thursday, January 7, 2016
Where: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas

The Houston Rockets hope to make it a little easier on themselves Thursday night when they go for back-to-back wins against the visiting Utah Jazz. The Rockets snapped a four-game losing streak by rallying from 15 points down in the second half Monday for a 93-91 triumph at Utah — their fifth victory in the last six contests against the Jazz.

James Harden, the NBA’s second-leading scorer (28.1), recorded 30 points Monday as Houston continues to search for the consistent form that carried them to the Western Conference finals last season. “With this group, we need a little bit of a run of success,” Rockets coach J.B. Bickerstaff told reporters. “… No one’s going to give it to is, so we’re going to have to go out and take it.” The Jazz allowed 60.5 percent shooting from the field and were routed 123-98 at San Antonio on Wednesday for their sixth straight road loss. Utah had allowed 92.2 points per contest while winning three of the previous five before giving up a season high.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, ROOT (Utah, Houston)

ABOUT THE JAZZ (15-19): Rodney Hood cooled off Wednesday with nine points after averaging 24.3 in his previous three outings while Trey Burke scored 21 — the third time in five games he produced at least 20. Gordon Hayward, who leads the team in scoring (18.9), poured in 18 points in 29 minutes against San Antonio after recording 20 against Houston. Second-leading scorer Derrick Favors (back spasms) is expected to miss his eighth straight game and center Jeff Withey has averaged 10 points and 8.4 rebounds the seven games in his place.

ABOUT THE ROCKETS (17-19): While Harden has registered 30 points in two of the last three games, center Dwight Howard is on a bit of a tear with four straight double-doubles — making 31-of-42 from the field in that span. Trevor Ariza drained 13-of-28 from 3-point range during the past six games, but Terrence Jones has struggled the last three contests — averaging four points. Houston could get Marcus Thornton (personal) back Thursday, but Ty Lawson (ankle) and Donatas Motiejunas (back) are questionable.


1. The Rockets, who are tied for 26th in the league in scoring defense, allowed 116.5 per game during their recent losing streak before Monday’s win.

2. Utah’s rookie PF Trey Lyles registered a career-high 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting against Houston on Monday.

3. Harden’s performance earlier in the week raised his average to 17.2 in 22 games against Utah.

PREDICTION: Rockets 110, Jazz 98