This road trip was always going to be tough for the Rockets. Four of the teams on the trip had already beaten the Rockets, and the other was getting the Rockets at home on a back-to-back. Now, all five teams have at least one win against Houston.
The Rockets are 2-5 against the remaining three teams they will face. They'll need to go 2-1 to keep pace with the Clippers and Blazers in the fight for the third seed. Phoenix beat up the ailing Spurs Friday night to stay in sixth place. There's a real chance that these two teams will meet up in the first round of the postseason, so every game has a little extra motivation.
To say that the Rockets performed poorly in Phoenix last year would be an understatement. In both games, the Rockets got off to slow starts and were picked apart by the Suns. You could say that the US Airways Center felt like the Elimination Chamber to the Rockets (can you tell I'll be flipping back and forth? YES YES YES!).
This season's matchups have been different, mostly because of injuries. The Rockets were missing Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin the first time. The Suns missed and are still missing Eric Bledsoe. Nevertheless, Phoenix stood tough with Houston in that second game and never let the Rockets pull away despite multiple chances to lay down.
The ever-entertaining James Harden vs. P.J. Tucker battle will be on display. After being positively shut out the first time, Harden bounced back with a modest 23 points on 4-10 shooting.
Meanwhile, Dwight Howard stole the show with 34/14. Phoenix had no answer for the big man in the middle, despite throwing anything they could at him. When they did double, it freed up the Rockets to go 11-16 from three against Phoenix's 8-30 from downtown.
Basically, both teams could legitimately believe they are better than the other. Phoenix has a solid win in Houston when they were completely healthy. They lost when they were banged up and had a terrible shooting night from three. From Houston's perspective, they themselves were banged up in the first meeting figured things out offensively in the second matchup.
Either way, both of these teams will come in confident that they can win. Phoenix is coming off a big win and Houston is coming off a disappointing loss in overtime.
The "Road Trip to Destroy Sleep Cycles" continues tonight with an earlier start time on national television.
And to make you feel better after the Golden State loss (that still pisses me off but I'm too bitter to keep talking about it or else this would turn into a rant)
Duck Tales Theme (via 87pedro)
Tip off is at 8pm CST on ESPN.