Pistons vs Rockets Game Preview - December 21, 2013

Regular Season Game #29

The Houston Rockets opened the weekend with an embarrassing performance against one of the NBA's best teams.

The Detroit Pistons let one slip away against a mediocre opponent. Houston tries to bounce back from a 33-point defeat Saturday night when it visits the Pistons, losers in eight of nine in the series.

After closing November with a five-game winning streak, the Rockets (17-10) dropped to 4-5 this month with a 114-81 rout at the hands of Indiana on Friday. Houston, averaging 106.1 points to rank second in the league, was limited to its lowest output of the season.

"We had no answers for them. They just played way better than we did," said coach Kevin McHale, whose team was outrebounded 50-36 and outscored 18-8 in transition. "We didn't play very well all night. When you don't play well that's going to happen."

Dwight Howard had 19 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks, but James Harden shot 3 of 14 and finished with 12 points - well below his season mark of 23.9.

"We've got a bounce back game tomorrow in Detroit. We've got an opportunity to go up there and play well against them. That's how we bounce back," said Harden, whose team is 8-2 against the Eastern Conference. "Our shots were just not going. We got good looks, but then we'd miss a layup or turn the ball over. They are a good defensive team, but the last several weeks we haven't moved the ball as well as we were, and we've got to keep working on that."

The Rockets have had their way with the Pistons (13-15) of late, holding them to 88.2 points during a five-game winning streak in the series. Houston is 8-1 against Detroit since the start of 2008-09. The Pistons had won three of four before falling 116-106 to Charlotte on Friday. Detroit went up by as many as 20 points in the second quarter but was outscored 41-17 in the fourth.

"We just lost focus," said Brandon Jennings, who had 26 points and five assists. "It happened so fast, I really don't know what to say. It's kind of unbelievable what just happened."

Andre Drummond posted 14 points, 15 boards and a career high-tying five blocks, and Josh Smith scored 18. Smith, who was at one point rumored to join Howard in Houston this offseason, is averaging 24.8 points and shooting 50.0 percent in the last four games.

While the Pistons have won six of seven as the visiting team, they have dropped nine of 13 on their own court.

"It's just funny that we finish games better on the road than we do at home," Jennings said. "Usually you would think it's the opposite."

Rodney Stuckey has been held out the last two games with a sore shoulder, leaving his status for Saturday unclear. Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin could miss a fourth consecutive contest due to back spasms. Center Omer Asik (thigh, knee), meanwhile, didn't travel with the team.

Houston has given up 110.4 points per game during a 1-4 stretch on the road. The Rockets, though, have averaged 112.8 in going 5-1 in the second of back-to-backs.