Spurs, Rockets Put Four-Game Winning Streaks on the Line
Posted Nov 14 2006 10:49AM
The Houston Rockets have already posted lopsided victories this season over both NBA finalists from 2005-06. They still have to prove they can solve the team that has been their nemesis.
The Rockets (5-2) look to end a six-game losing streak against the San Antonio Spurs (5-1) when the Southwest Division rivals meet Tuesday night.
Houston enters on a four-game winning streak after a 94-72 victory at defending NBA champion Miami on Sunday. The Rockets beat Western Conference champion Dallas 107-76 on Nov. 4.
However, Houston has struggled against San Antonio. The Rockets have lost 13 of the last 15 meetings, but star swingman Tracy McGrady did not see action due to back problems in the final three matchups last season.
The Rockets are hoping Yao Ming continues his surge as they try to win for just the fifth time in the last 32 meetings in this series. Yao had 34 points and 14 rebounds against the Heat's Shaquille O'Neal Sunday, two days after he had 35 points, 17 rebounds and seven blocks in a win over New York.
``He's pretty much the same, just big, 7-foot-6,'' O'Neal said about Yao. ``He's just doing what he's supposed to do.''
Emerging Spurs center Fabricio Oberto will get his first chance to defend Yao. Oberto, who only logged two minutes against Yao last season, has picked up at least four fouls in four of his last five games.
With Yao playing well, McGrady has taken a back seat in the last two games for the Rockets. He's managed a total of 25 points, but has handed out 16 assists in that span.
``Some nights he shoots a lot,'' Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said about McGrady. ``Some nights he passes a lot. I am not sure how he sees what he sees. I am just glad he sees what he sees. I can't see what he sees. That vision is incredible.''
San Antonio has also won four straight and is the league's only unbeaten road team at 3-0. Tony Parker and Tim Duncan combined for 57 points in a 100-92 victory over the Knicks on Saturday.
The story of the game against New York was a dispute involving Spurs forward Bruce Bowen and Knicks coach Isiah Thomas, who berated the player for sticking his foot under the feet of opponents shooting jump shots. Bowen, Thomas and San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich all exchanged harsh words and Duncan defended his teammate after the game.
``There's nothing that Bruce did,'' Duncan said. ``Bruce didn't do anything. Bruce defends people, and people get frustrated.''
Tony Parker is off to a strong start, averaging 24.2 points to lead the Spurs. After finishing third in the NBA by shooting 54.8 percent last season, Parker is up to 55.6 percent this year.
``He's playing great, he's really confident, he's worked hard on that shot,'' Popovich said. ``That's what made him an even different player from last year.''
The Spurs are trying to score 100 or more points in five straight games for the first time since March 2-10, 2000.
Houston will be without forward Chuck Hayes for up to two weeks after he injured his left knee in a collision with O'Neal on Sunday. Hayes started six of the Rockets' first seven games and is second on the team with 6.6 rebounds per game.
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