Preview: Thunder at Rockets
James Harden has already played his former team twice this season, he just has yet to beat them. Harden and the Houston Rockets will be looking to take out Kevin Durant and company when the Oklahoma City Thunder visit on Wednesday. Harden, who was traded from the Thunder to the Rockets days before the start of the season, has connected on nine of 33 shot attempts as Houston has been blown out twice by Oklahoma City.The Thunder dropped back-to-back games heading into the All-Star break and have been vulnerable on the road with losses in three of their last four away from Oklahoma. The Rockets own the highest scoring offense in the NBA - just ahead of the Thunder - but are near the bottom in scoring defense and are clinging to the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference. Houston has traded wins and losses over its last six games and has allowed an average of 109.3 points over that span.TV: 8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Oklahoma (Oklahoma City), Comcast SportsNet HoustonABOUT THE THUNDER (39-14): Oklahoma City stars Durant and Russell Westbrook each played for the Western Conference in the All-Star game on Sunday. Durant scored a game-high 30 points while Westbrook chipped in 14 off the bench in the West's victory. Those two combined for 66 points in a 110-100 loss to the Miami Heat on Thursday but no one else on the Thunder managed more that nine points in the setback. Finding a reliable third scorer has been an issue ever since Harden left, though Kevin Martin and Serge Ibaka are both capable of having big offensive games with the right matchup. Durant totaled 73 points in the two losses before the break after averaging 20.8 in four straight wins. He went for 26 points in Oklahoma City's 124-94 win at Houston on Dec. 29.ABOUT THE ROCKETS (29-26): Harden scored 15 off the West bench in the All-Star game but has struggled to get anything going against the Thunder. Houston has lost the two meetings by a combined 52 points in part because Harden has not been able to find a rhythm offensively against Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha. The Rockets have displayed a general lack of interest on the defensive end lately but have managed to overcome that at times because of a quick-strike offense that has become much more than just Harden's show. Chandler Parsons has scored at least 17 points in three of the last four games and Jeremy Lin and Patrick Patterson are tough defensive matchups as well.BUZZER BEATERS1. Rockets C Omer Asik had a streak of nine straight games with at least 12 rebounds snapped before the break, when he pulled down seven boards in a loss at the Los Angeles Clippers.2. Houston G Toney Douglas (hip) has missed the last two games and is questionable for Wednesday.3. Martin has averaged 18 points in the two games against his former team.PREDICTION: Thunder 109, Rockets 101.
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