The Houston Rockets have turned things around since they last faced the Oklahoma City Thunder, and will look for revenge Saturday night at the Toyota Center.
It seems all Houston point guard Jeremy Lin needed was a trip back to New York to break out of his early season funk. Since the Rockets walloped the Knicks back on Dec. 17, Lin has shot 55 percent from the field and averaged 17.3 points and 7.5 assists and Houston has gone 5-1.
Over that same stretch, James Harden is averaging 30.1 points, and the Rockets moved up to sixth in the West. Houston was on a five game win streak, but it was spoiled when they ran into the San Antonio Spurs on Friday.
Harden and Lin combined for 54 points, 15 assists and six steals, but the Spurs forced 24 Rocket turnovers and in a 122-116 victory.
The Rockets struggled against San Antonio’s veteran core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. Parker had 31 points and 10 assists, and Duncan dominated the post with 30 points, while Ginobili went 5-for-9 from 3-point range.
Oklahoma City suffered two straight losses after winning 12 consecutive games, but may have righted the ship with their 111-105 overtime win over the Dallas Mavericks.
Kevin Durant netted 40 points, along with eight rebounds and five assists, while Russell Westbrook scored eight of his 16 points in overtime to move the Thunder’s record to 22-6.
The last time these two teams met, it was Harden’s first trip back to Oklahoma City since they traded him before the season began.
Durant would score 37 points, and center Serge Ibaka recorded 23 points and nine rebounds in a 120-98 victory. Harden had a terrible night shooting, going 3-for-16 from the field for 17 points.
Betting Odds: Oklahoma City is favored by 4.5 points
Over/Under: 213 points
Prediction: The Rockets are much improved team since they last met Oklahoma City, and their home record of 11-5 gives them a distinct advantage. Still Durant has been playing at another level for most of the season, and Houston has very little options to defend him. Look for Durant and Westbrook to lead an OKC victory.
Predicted Score: Oklahoma City 100, Houston 93