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Game 67 Preview & Thread: Nuggets at Rockets (6:30pm MST)

Tacos_medium My apologies about the Grizzlies recap, like Johan Petro has done a time or two ... I dropped the ball. The important thing to make note of ... Denver is finally above the .500 mark on the road, back in control of the #2 seed (by 1/2 a game) and riding high on a 6-game win streak. The Nuggets will look to make it seven in a row tonight in Houston.

The particulars ...

Records:
Denver:
45-21 (28-5 at home, 17-16 on the road)
Houston:
33-31 (18-14 at home, 15-17 on the road)
Denver current streak: Won 6. They are 8-2 in their last 10 games.
Houston current streak: Won 2. They are 6-4 in their last 10 games.
Injuries:
Denver:
Ty Lawson (left shoulder contusion) is questionable. Kenyon Martin (left knee tendinitis) is out tonight. Renaldo Balkman (mid-back strain) did not make the road trip with the team and may have had surgery on his back ... looking to confirm. Chris Andersen is probable after suffering a broken ring-finger on his left hand against the Grizzlies.
Houston: Yao Ming (left foot surgery) is out.

Opposition's Take: The Dream Shake

Like the Nuggets, the Rockets are battling for their playoff lives. Unlike the Nuggets, who are jockeying for playoff seeding position, the Rockets are just battling from the outside-looking-in to get into the post season.

Houston is riding a two-game win streak after defeating the New Jersey Nets Saturday March 13th in a game in which Luis Scola hit 20 of 25 shots, scoring 44 points in a 116-108 win. I didn't think it was possible for Scola to score 44 points in an NBA game, but he does have an assortment of post-moves and a reliable jumper ... still 44 points is quite a feat for the power forward.

The good news ... the Nuggets are a little bit more banged up today than they were on Saturday before the Memphis game. Wait ... that isn't good news at all! Birdman suffered a broken ring finger on his non-shooting hand and I guess the good news there is he doesn't often need is left hand for much and he'll likely play through the pain. Johan Petro was visibly limping around a bit against the Grizzlies and I thought to myself ... we can't lose Petro! The French Resistance has been playing better than I expected in K-Mart's absence and it's sort of fun watching him come along and be a part of the rotation. Who knows ... with all the burn he's getting he might just be the in-house big man the Nuggets were searching for this season after all.

This is the last game of the current four-game road trip before the Nuggets return to the Pepsi Center tomorrow night to face the Washington Wizards and it's always key to win the first game of a back-to-back set. The only issue tonight ... Houston is a tough place to play.

The Nuggets did earn a win in Texas back on January 27th when they defeated the Rockets 97-92 and the Nuggets won the first match up with Houston on December 16th in Denver (111-101). This is the last regular season meeting between the two teams this season and the Nuggets are looking to complete the sweep.

Houston looks a little bit different now than they did before the trade deadline as they made the biggest splash in the league when they traded for shooting guard Kevin Martin or "The Other K-Mart" as he's sometimes referred to by Nuggets Nation.

Along with the addition of Kevin Martin the Rockets added rookie Jordan Hill and defensive ace Jared Jeffries from the New York Knicks. Gone is Carl Landry and former franchise player Tracy McGrady. Houston is sort of rebuilding on the fly and may have salvaged a total rebuilding process in the wake of losing McGrady by plugging in both Martin and Hill.

While it'll be nice to see some fresh faces in Houston ... I'll be looking for Denver to push their current win streak to seven games after tonight's contest.

Views you can use:

  • Houston is another team that doesn't have the best bench around. In their win against the Nets, the Rocket reserves combined for just 22 points ... 8 less than J.R. Smith scored by himself against the Grizzlies.
  • Johan Petro is averaging 7.2 rebounds in his last four games. The Nuggets needed somebody to get on the glass and Petro hasn't disappointed ... even notching 10 rebounds twice in those four games.
  • J.R. Smith shot 70% (7-10) from beyond the arc against the Grizzlies and led the team with 30 points. Smith is definitely looking like a player that heats up as the season wears on.

ntimmons73@yahoo.com
Twitter: Nate_Timmons

Photo courtesy of AP Photos