Bucks at Rockets
The Houston Rockets and the Milwaukee Bucks are in similar positions as the No. 8 teams in their respective conferences. The Rockets, whose lead is two games smaller than the Bucks, will be looking to widen their gap when they host Milwaukee on Wednesday. Houston owns a three-game lead over the Los Angeles Lakers and is only one-half game behind the Utah Jazz in seventh. The Bucks snapped a three-game slide with a win at Dallas on Tuesday.
Milwaukee likes to get out and run with Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings and should get plenty of opportunities to do so against the Rockets. James Harden and company are second in the NBA in scoring offense and second-to-last in scoring defense. Houston is hoping the addition of rookie Thomas Robinson will help a little on the defensive end while the Bucks are counting on their trade deadline acquisition, J.J. Redick, to provide a boost on the offensive end by spreading the floor.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Wisconsin (Milwaukee), Comcast SportsNet Houston
ABOUT THE BUCKS (27-28): Redick has been as advertised through two games with Milwaukee, averaging 15 points and providing a spark to the offense off the bench. The Bucks are five games up on the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 8 spot but have their sights set a little higher with the Boston Celtics two games ahead in the No. 7 slot. Milwaukee began its two-game road trip with an impressive 95-90 win over the Mavericks on Tuesday. Ellis came through late and finished with 22 points and nine assists to lead the way. Ellis was a rumored trade candidate before the deadline due to his erratic shot selection and defensive shortcomings, but the 27-year-old is still capable of scoring in bunches.
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (31-27): Scoring in bunches is what Houston does best. The Rockets have averaged 121.6 points in winning their last five home games but have played only five of their last 14 at home and will not get a homestand longer than one game until a seven-game stretch from March 13-27. Houston attempted a league-high 46 3-pointers and got 27 points from Harden but fell short in a 105-103 loss at Washington on Sunday. The Wizards slowed the pace by going inside, something the Bucks are capable of doing with Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute along the frontline. The Houston Chronicle reported that the Rockets will give forward Donatas Motiejunas his first career start on Wednesday in the spot vacated by Patrick Patterson, who went to Sacramento in the trade for Robinson at the deadline.
1. Robinson is expected to make his debut for Houston on Wednesday. He averaged 4.8 points in 51 games for Sacramento.
2. The Rockets took the first meeting 115-101 on Jan. 4, behind 29 points from Harden and 22 from Carlos Delfino.
3. Jennings has been held to 19 points on 7-of-22 shooting in the last two games for Milwaukee.