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Preview: Kings (27-55) at Rockets (65-17)
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Date: January 22, 2014 8:00 PM EDT

The Houston Rockets have lost both meetings with the Sacramento Kings this season, squandering a tremendous effort by James Harden in the most recent.

Potentially having Terrence Jones back could help prevent a third straight loss in the series.

With Jones expected to be a game-time decision, the Rockets will try to continue their impressive stretch Wednesday night and avoid their first three-game slide to the Kings in 10 years.

Houston (28-15) fell 106-91 at Sacramento on Dec. 15. That was part of a 6-6 stretch that concluded with a 110-106 home defeat to the Kings on New Year's Eve, despite Harden's 38 points and 10 rebounds.


The Rockets haven't wasted many efforts since, winning seven of nine games and four of five at home while averaging 109.4 points. They're coming off their best offensive showing of the season, scoring 71 points in the first half en route to a 126-113 victory over Portland on Monday. Houston shot 52.3 percent from the floor, including 48.5 from 3-point range.

The last time the Rockets topped 70 in the first half, they fell 104-92 to Oklahoma City last Thursday - the team's lone home loss of 2014.

"We just held our composure," said Harden, who had 22 points Monday. "We couldn't worry about what they were doing or anything. We had to figure out a way to fight through it and play harder, push the tempo a little harder and play defense."

Harden's team will try to avoid dropping three straight to Sacramento for the first time since losing all four meetings in 2003-04.

Houston hopes to have Jones back after he sat out Monday's win with a thigh bruise. His injury was rather untimely since the forward was averaging 21.6 points, 12.2 rebounds and 3.0 blocks over his last five games.

Jones has made huge strides in his second season, averaging 11.6 points and 7.7 rebounds after he scored 5.5 and pulled down 3.4 boards as a rookie.

His potential return could have an impact on Chandler Parsons, who fell three assists shy of his first triple-double Monday. The forward had a season-high 31 points and 10 rebounds while making 12 of 19 shots from the floor, including 3 of 5 from long distance.

Harden is averaging 28.6 points over his last five meetings with Sacramento, totaling 67 while connecting on 54.8 percent from the field and 9 of 17 from behind the arc in two at Toyota Center.

The Kings (15-25) are looking to conclude this six-game road trip at .500 after beating New Orleans 114-97 on Tuesday behind Rudy Gay's career high-tying 41 points.

Gay shot 16 of 25 overall and 5 of 8 from 3-point range two days after he had six points before being ejected in the fourth quarter of a 108-93 defeat to Oklahoma City.

"He put on a show, coming off a game in Oklahoma City where he didn't play very well and got thrown out," coach Michael Malone said. "He wanted to bounce back and show everybody what he is capable of."

He's certainly done that against the Rockets recently, averaging 26.7 points over his last three matchups. He scored 25 in the latest one, while DeMarcus Cousins had 17 points and 16 rebounds.

Isaiah Thomas has totaled 58 points and 17 assists over the past two games, getting 20 and 11 against the Pelicans.

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