The Golden State Warriors own a one-half game lead over the Houston Rockets for sixth place in the Western Conference.
That advantage would be larger if they could figure out a way to beat the Rockets.
The Warriors try to bounce back from an embarrassing defeat and avoid being swept in the four-game season series Sunday night in Houston.
Golden State (37-30) has historically had trouble against the Rockets (36-30), and even though it's a better team this year - in position to make the playoffs for just the second time since 1994 - those problems have lingered.
With a 94-88 home defeat to Houston last Friday, the Warriors lost for the 17th time in the last 19 matchups. They held the Rockets to 36.5 percent shooting after allowing point totals of 140 and 116 in the first two meetings, but had their own offensive problems, shooting 37.9 percent.
Golden State had similar offensive woes against Chicago on Friday. It missed its first 11 shots from 3-point range and fell behind by as many as 36 in a 113-95 loss.
"This was an embarrassing performance by us, point blank,' said Stephen Curry, who was held to eight points on 2-for-13 shooting.
Curry, one of the league's top 3-point shooters at 45.0 percent, missed all five of his 3s after going 11 of 17 from beyond the arc and totaling 57 points in Golden State's previous two games - wins over New York and Detroit. He is 6 of 18 from the perimeter against the Rockets this season.
Houston, the NBA's top 3-point shooting team with 715, has hit 48 of 109 (44.0 percent) from distance in the season series, including a league-tying and franchise-best 23 in a 140-109 rout on Feb. 5.
James Harden made 5 of 10 3-point attempts and finished with 37 points as the Rockets rallied from a 20-point third-quarter deficit to beat Minnesota 108-100 on Friday. He had 25 in the second half when Houston outscored the Timberwolves 69-43.
"You just have to have that confidence to go out there and make plays and score the basketball, drop a couple passes off and work from there, said Harden, who also had eight assists and seven rebounds.
A comeback like that was nothing new for the Rockets, who have rallied from double-digit deficits to win 11 times this season. They know, however, they can't keep relying on second-half outbursts for victories, especially against a good team like Golden State.
"The first half was so frustrating, we can't afford to play like that,' forward Chandler Parsons said. "We can't get down like that and fight back against many teams.'
Parsons is averaging 21.0 points and has made 13 of 22 (59.1 percent) of his 3s against the Warriors this season.
Jeremy Lin, who scored 24 Friday, is averaging 19.0 points against his former team - 6.1 better than his season average. The Rockets, winners of the first two on a season-high seven-game homestand, are 18-6 when Lin scores at least 14.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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