(Sports Network) - Two teams desperate to improve their playoff positioning meet in south Texas Saturday when the Houston Rockets entertain the Indiana Pacers.
The Rockets lost for the first time in six games on Wednesday in Los Angeles when Mo Williams finished with 17 points, including three free throws in the final 15 seconds, as the Clippers edged Houston, 106-103.
Williams gave Los Angeles a 104-100 advantage with the second of two from the line with 14.4 seconds left on the clock. After Chase Budinger connected on a long three-pointer inside the final 10 seconds, Williams made a pair from the line for a 106-103 lead. Budinger then attempted another three at the buzzer, but the shot was far off target to end the game.
Kyle Lowry paced Houston with 24 points and 11 assists. Courtney Lee added 18 points in a reserve role while Kevin Martin and Luis Scola both finished with 12 points in the loss.
"You're going to lose some games," Rockets coach Rick Adelman told the team's website. "We lost, now you have to respond against Indiana. You can't give in to it."
Houston is now in 11th place in the tough Western Conference, three games behind Memphis for the eighth and final playoff spot with 19 games to play.
Indiana's record isn't as good as the Rockets but they are currently eighth in the East, one game ahead of Charlotte for that conference's last postseason spot.
"We've always known there are ups and downs with the schedule," Pacers coach Frank Vogel told the Pacers' website. "We're just battling every night. We believe a great deal in ourselves that we are going to make the playoffs."
One of those downs happened Friday when the Pacers dropped the front end of a two-day trek through the Lone Star State in Dallas when Dirk Nowitzki poured in 29 points and missed just twice from the floor, leading the Mavs to their eighth straight victory with a 116-108 triumph.
Danny Granger led six Indiana players in double figures with 22 points, but the Pacers lost for the fourth time in five games. Darren Collison had 17 points, while Josh McRoberts netted 15 for Indiana, which has lost to Dallas seven straight times. Tyler Hansbrough (13), Roy Hibbert (11) and Brandon Rush (10) were also in double figures.
"We didn't defend well enough in the first half," Vogel said. "They got off on us. They are an extremely explosive offensive team and we didn't do a good enough job in the first half. Our guys fought like they always do and made a game of it in the second half, but it wasn't enough."
The Rockets snapped a four-game skid to the Pacers with a 102-99 win in Indy back on Nov. 12.