After a tough 88-85 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday, the Houston Rockets have the unenviable task of flying out to Salt Lake City to face the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night in one of the toughest road venues in the NBA.
Utah is 12-6 at home compared to only 3-12 on the road. After racing out to a fast start to open the season, they've come back to Earth, slowly slipping out of the Western Conference playoff picture with a 15-18 record and a -1.7 point differential.
They lost 101-85 to Houston on Feb. 19, beginning a four-game losing streak, and are coming off a 106-93 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday.
The Jazz are led in scoring by by 6'10 290 center Al Jefferson, one of the best low-post scorers in the NBA who has a nearly 20/10 career average. The Rockets will need a big game defensively from the inconsistent Sam Dalembert to match up with Jefferson as well as Utah's deep group of big men, including promising young lottery picks Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter.
While Raja Bell is no longer the All-Defensive team caliber player he was in his prime in Phoenix, the 6'5 210 shooting guard should still make Kevin Martin work for his points. Martin only had 11 points on 4-9 shooting in their first meeting.
The Rockets were led offensively by Kyle Lowry, who had 32 points and 9 assists on 9-13 shooting in a dominant performance against Devin Harris, who has regressed since coming from New Jersey as a part of the Deron Williams trade at the deadline last season.
The 8:00 PM game will be broadcast regionally on Fox Sports Houston.