The Houston Rockets are struggling a bit with losses in two straight games, and poor 3-point shooting is partly to blame. The New York Knicks, who host the Rockets on Wednesday, are winners of three in a row behind emerging superstar Kristaps Porzingis.
Houston led the NBA in 3-point attempts last season (40.3) and connected on 35.7 percent of those attempts, helping to lift the team into the No. 3 spot in the Western Conference. The Rockets are not quite as sharp so far in 2017-18 and are at 30.7 percent on 44 attempts per game after going 13-of-47 from beyond the arc in a 115-107 home loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday. Porzingis went 4-of-7 from beyond the arc en route to a career-high 38-point outburst in a 116-110 win over Denver on the second night of a back-to-back Monday. The Knicks were at home for that one after thoroughly dominating the defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers 114-95 on Sunday - a win that featured 32 points and 12 rebounds from the 22-year-old Porzingis.
TV: 8 p.m. ESPN
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (5-3): Houston’s best looks from beyond the arc come when the team is playing with pace, and right now it is not playing fast enough, according to coach Mike D’Antoni. “We just got to push it,” D’Antoni told reporters. “...We just need to be more focused at doing it. We haven’t done it. We’ve been working at it and talking about it, trying to get better. That’s the key. We can’t do it otherwise.” Shooting guard Eric Gordon stepped into the starting lineup when Chris Paul went down with a knee injury in the first game and is firing away from beyond the arc but connecting on just 30.2 percent of his 12.3 attempts.
ABOUT THE KNICKS (3-3): New York began the season with three straight losses before turning things around on both ends of the court and is drawing praise for its resilience. “This going to be a process throughout the whole year,” Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek told reporters. “We have great effort right now with the guys. They’re listening. They’re trying. ... I’m very happy with the way they’ve responded. 0-3 you can duck your head, but I think that says something about these guys. They kept working. I think they have the belief that we’re going to get there.” In addition to Porzingis, the Knicks are getting solid play in the middle from centers Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn, who combined for 27 points and 21 rebounds in Monday’s win.
1. The Knicks’ winning streak corresponded with the return of PG Frank Ntilikina (ankle), who is averaging 6.3 points and three assists in 18.3 minutes off the bench in the last three games.
2. Rockets C Clint Capela leads the NBA in field-goal percentage at 72.3.
3. Houston took the last three and 14 of the last 15 in the series.
PREDICTION: Rockets 113, Knicks 109