Game Preview: Houston Rockets vs Phoenix Suns

After losing both halves of a west coast back to back, the Rockets are looking to right the ship in a game against the struggling Suns. The Rockets are currently sitting at 51-25, following their first three game losing streak of the season, and have won only six of their last 10 . James Harden remains the team leader in points, assists and rebounds, averaging 29.2, 11.2 and 8.1, respectively. The Rockets rank 2nd in offensive rating, 16th in defensive rating and 3rd in overall net rating.

After a loss to the Trailblazers just the night before, the Suns have the leagues third worst record, at 22-55. The Suns are riding an incredible 11 game losing streak, as they attempt to better their pick in this years draft. Among their currently active players, Devin Booker leads the Suns in points at 21.8 per game, while Tyler Ulis leads in assists at 3.4 per game and Alex Len leads them in rebounds at 6.5 per game. The Suns currently rank 24th in offensive rating, 27th in defensive rating and 27th in net rating.

Starting Lineups

Ryan Anderson will miss his fifth straight game with a sprained ankle, and was originally expected to miss two weeks. The Rockets will likely start James Harden at point guard, Patrick Beverley at shooting guard, Eric Gordon at small forward, Trevor Ariza at power forward, and Clint Capela at center to start the game, with Lou Williams playing the role of sixth man.

After shutting down Eric Bledsoe, Tyson Chandler, and Brandon Knight (mostly for tanking reasons), the Suns have been looking extremely thin. The Suns will likely start Tyler Ulis at point guard, Devin Booker at shooting guard, T.J. Warren at small forward, Marquese Chriss at power forward, and Alex Len at center.

Three Things to Watch

  • Bounce Back – The timing of this game couldn't be better, as the Rockets desperately need a win in order to avoid a fourth straight loss. The Suns are in full on tank mode and should be a game where the Rockets can cruise to victory. Watch to see if the Rockets come out with some urgency to get their legs back under them, and put the game out of the Suns' reach early.

  • Harden's Struggles – During the Rockets' three game losing streak, James Harden is shooting below 30% from the field, below 20% from three, and is scoring just 23 points per game to go with six turnovers. Watch to see if James Harden can bounce back against a weak defense, or if his sore wrist is a bigger issue than the Rockets organization is making it seem.

  • Rising Star – Just a few games ago, Phoenix's 20 year old shooting guard lit the Boston Celtics up for 70 points, the most in a game since 2006. Watch to see this star-in-the-making perform against the Rockets, and see if the Rockets are able to slow him down.

Prediction and Tip-Off

The Rockets should win this game, and if the Suns have anything to say about it, they will. Playing against a team that is trying to lose games should yield an easy victory for the Rockets on Sunday

Tip-off will be at 8:00 P.M. Central Time in Phoenix on Sunday, April 2nd. The game will be televised on NBATV and ROOTSPORTS with the radio broadcast on Sports Talk 790-AM.

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