The Houston Rockets are in search of consistency.
They've enjoyed plenty against the New York Knicks, despite Carmelo Anthony's efforts.
The Rockets look to avoid their longest slide of the season Friday night by earning a ninth straight win over the Knicks, who eye back-to-back upsets with Anthony back.
Houston (21-13) split its 16 December games, while never winning more than three in a row or losing more than back-to-back contests. The Rockets are outscoring opponents by an average of 12.2 points in those victories, while losing by 14.0.
Their three-game winning streak ended with a 117-86 loss at Oklahoma City on Sunday, two days before falling 110-106 to Sacramento.
"We've played some poor games and this was another," coach Kevin McHale said Tuesday. "It doesn't feel like we're in much of a rhythm."
That's certainly the case from beyond the arc, with the Rockets making 25.0 percent over the past two games. However, making just 59.4 percent of their free throws hasn't helped.
Facing the Knicks may be exactly what the Houston needs to avoid its first three-game slide since dropping seven straight from Jan. 9-19.
The Rockets have won 16 of the past 17 meetings with New York, including eight in a row at home. Their overall winning streak in the series reached eight games on Nov. 14, when they won 109-106 in New York.
Houston's recent success has come despite the Knicks getting tremendous production from Anthony. While he's missed two of four meetings due to injuries, Anthony has totaled 82 points while hitting 57.4 percent from the floor in the other two.
The superstar forward was vital to Thursday's 105-101 win at Southwest Division-leading San Antonio, scoring 27 points with 12 rebounds and four assists. He had missed the previous three games - all losses - with a sprained ankle.
"The effort level was very high, the energy level was very high," Anthony said. "We played like we wanted this game."
Iman Shumpert scored a career-high 27 points against the Spurs, putting the Knicks up for good with a tip-in with 23.4 seconds left in regulation.
"They doubled 'Melo, so a lot of times I was just wide open," Shumpert said.
Shumpert will likely have to contend with James Harden, who had 36 points with nine rebounds against New York on Nov. 14. He's averaging 30.3 points over his past four meetings, sinking 53.2 percent from the floor and 45 of 48 from the line.
Harden, who had a season-high 38 points and 10 boards Tuesday, scored 33 while all of the Rockets' starters reached double-digit points in a 131-103 win over New York in the most recent meeting at Toyota Center on Nov. 23, 2012.
Chandler Parsons chipped in with 31 points in that meeting, and he added 22 on Nov. 14.
Jeremy Lin has totaled 43 points over his last two games versus his former team.
The Associated Press News Service
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