With star forward Tracy McGrady sidelined by a back injury, the Houston Rockets have struggled.

But with momentum from a rare road win over a division rival and facing an opponent they've dominated recently, the Rockets have a good chance to turn things around.

Houston (16-10) welcomes the Los Angeles Clippers to the Toyota Center on Saturday in the second matchup between the teams in six days.

Since McGrady's injury in a win over Washington on Dec. 9, Houston has failed to win back-to-back games, but could end that stretch with this contest - the Rockets are 25-5 in their last 30 home games against the Clippers (10-15).

Houston returns home after beating the Spurs 97-78 on Friday for its first win in San Antonio since April 20, 1997. The Rockets had dropped 17 straight road games to their south Texas rival.

Yao Ming scored 22 points to lead five Rockets in double figures.

``My teammates did a great job, a huge job in the second half,'' Yao said. ``They showed a lot of energy. They put the life into the game.''

With McGrady out, Yao has averaged 31.2 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, but the Rockets are just 2-4. Yao led the way with 32 points and 10 rebounds in a 108-103 road win over the Clippers on Dec. 17.

Shane Battier, who had 10 points, thinks Friday's win over the Spurs can be a starting point for the Rockets' turnaround.

``This game is very good for us at this point of the season,'' he said. ``I think it's safe to say we needed this win more than the Spurs did tonight. Tonight we proved to ourselves when we do the things we are capable of, especially on defense, we can be a good team.''

The Clippers' lost their season-high sixth in a row, and suffered their most lopsided defeat of the season after falling to Dallas 115-83 on Friday. It's Los Angeles' longest slide since dropping eight straight from Feb. 4-23, 2005.

Corey Maggette scored 19 points and Elton Brand added 18, but Los Angeles' defense gave up 100-plus points for the sixth time in the last eight games. Clippers' opponents are averaging 99.2 points per game this season - up from 95.6 ppg last season when it reached the playoffs.

``It's baffling,'' coach Mike Dunleavy said. ``We've proven we can defend the last couple of years. Right now, for some reason, our guys are a step slow. It's hard to put your finger on it. We're just searching.''

Shaun Livingston had 21 points and nine rebounds, and Chris Kaman added 20 and 11 in the loss to the Rockets on Sunday.

Friday was the start of a three-game road trip, which concludes Tuesday against Northwest Division-leading Utah. The Clippers are a miserable 1-9 on the road this season.


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