Pistons at Rockets Game Preview - March 1, 2014
Regular Season Game #59
The Dwight Howard-Andre Drummond duel proved to be a major mismatch in the first meeting between the Houston Rockets and Detroit Pistons this season.
More than two months later, Drummond will get to see how far he's come when the teams meet again Saturday night.
Howard and the Rockets are shooting for their 11th win in 13 games while Drummond and the Pistons try to avoid their seventh straight road loss.
Houston's eight-time All-Star certainly had his way with Detroit's second-year center when he finished with a season-high 35 points and 19 rebounds in a 114-97 road win Dec. 21.
While Howard made 13 of 18 from the field to help the Rockets (39-19) overcome the loss of James Harden (sprained ankle), Drummond struggled with just nine points, six rebounds and five fouls in that meeting.
"At the end I thanked him for the lesson," Drummond said after the contest. "He said, 'Any time.'"
Howard has been playing well at home heading into the rematch as the Rockets open a stretch with four of five games there. He averaged 28.0 points on 73.7 percent shooting in three February home wins.
On Wednesday, Howard finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds while making 9 of 12 shots but the Rockets wrapped up a 3-2 road swing with a 101-93 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Jordan Hamilton had 16 points and four 3-pointers off the bench in his second game since being acquired from Denver, though Harden and Chandler Parsons scored a combined 25 on 9-of-29 shooting.
"Our wings couldn't really make a shot or get into the paint and Jordan was just about the only one who could knock down a consistent shot," said Harden, who had averaged 33.8 points in his previous five games. "We've been playing so well, we've just got to bounce back."
After averaging a season-low 11.8 points on 56.1 percent shooting in January, Drummond put up a career-best 14.8 points per game and a 64.9 field-goal percentage in February. Howard, who averaged a season-best 22.8 points in February, is the only player with at least 100 attempts to post a better field-goal percentage (65.4) that month.
Drummond finished with 16 points and 17 rebounds Wednesday while Josh Smith had 24 points and Wil Bynum added 18 in a 120-110 road loss to a San Antonio team that played without Tony Parker.
The Spurs shot 53.7 percent in handing the Pistons (23-35) their third straight loss and sixth in seven games overall. Detroit has allowed an average of 111.7 points on 51.0 percent shooting during its season-worst road skid.
That doesn't bode well against a Houston team that is 17-0 in 2014 when scoring more than 99 points and has won seven straight at home in this series since November 2005.
The Rockets had averaged 114.3 points on 50.2 percent shooting - including 41.4 percent from 3-point range - over a 10-game span before shooting 44.2 percent and hitting 8 of 25 from beyond the arc in Wednesday's loss.
They'll also try to take better care of the basketball after committing an average of 21.0 turnovers - 4.5 above their season average - in the last three games. The Clippers converted 20 into 30 points.
The Pistons rank in the league's top 10 by forcing 16.0 turnovers per game, though they only coaxed Houston into 14 - five by Howard - in the first meeting.
They're 4-17 against Western Conference opponents.