Preview: Rockets at Nets
The Houston Rockets made the most dramatic moves prior to the NBA's trading deadline, overhauling their roster by shipping out four key contributors in separate deals. The Rockets, who hold a 3 1/2-game lead over the Los Angeles Lakers for the final playoff slot in the Western Conference, sent three players to Sacramento in exchange for the power forward they covet in rookie Thomas Robinson, the No. 5 overall pick in last year's draft. It's unclear if Robinson will be in the lineup for Friday's matchup at the Brooklyn Nets.
Winners of fourth straight overall, including a pair of nail-biting wins over Milwaukee on back-to-back nights, the Nets have lost 12 consecutive meetings against the Rockets, including a 119-106 setback at Houston last month. One major health concern for Brooklyn is point guard Deron Williams, who scored 23 points in Wednesday's win over Milwaukee but said he would receive cortisone shots in each ankle Thursday as part of an ongoing treatment that forced him to miss two games last week.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, Comcast SportsNet Houston, YES (Brooklyn)
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (30-26): Guard James Harden helped Houston overcome a shorthanded roster with a brilliant 46-point performance in a come-from-behind win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night. Harden hit a career-high seven 3-pointers (in eight attempts) as the Rockets erased a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter. He also had eight rebounds and six assists against his former team. Dealing away power forwards Patrick Patterson and Marcus Morris opens a spot for Robinson, who averaged 4.8 points and 4.7 rebounds with Sacramento.
ABOUT THE NETS (33-22): Brooklyn's current winning streak has moved the team within one game of the New York Knicks for first place in the Atlantic Division. Backup point guard C.J. Watson provided a needed offensive spark off the bench in Wednesday's 97-94 victory over Milwaukee with 17 points and six assists. Watson is averaging 17.7 points and has hit 9 of 14 3-pointers in his last three games. Reserve forward Andray Blatche is also coming off consecutive strong performances with 26 points and 18 rebounds in the two wins over the Bucks.
1. Harden is averaging a staggering 34.8 points in his last five games.
2. Brooklyn is 19-8 since P.J. Carlesimo replaced the fired Avery Johnson.
3. Houston hasn't lost to the Nets since March 13, 2006.
PREDICTION: Nets 103, Rockets 101
Distributed by Internet Broadcasting and The Sports Xchange. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.