Limited Progress

Although the Houston Rockets have won 12 straight and are 16 games above .500, they still haven't been able to make much progress in the tight Western Conference.

The Washington Wizards, meanwhile, visit Houston on Tuesday night still in playoff contention despite a dismal stretch over the last month.

The Wizards (27-29), losers of 10 of their last 13 games, will try to snap the Rockets' longest win streak since they opened the 1993-94 season with 15 straight victories.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Houston –12.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 190.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 60% of bets for this game have been placed on Washington +12.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Houston (36-20) is coming off a 110-97 win over Chicago on Sunday as seven players scored in double figures, including 24 points from Tracy McGrady. Luis Scola had 17 points and Bobby Jackson added 14 in 19 minutes off the bench. Houston shot 50.6 percent from the field, connecting on 13-of-24 from 3-point range.

"We had a lot of penetration," center Yao Ming, who had 12 points and six rebounds, told the Rockets' official Web site. "We were attacking the basket and we were screening their defense. We had so many shooters out there that spread the court."

Jackson, acquired from New Orleans on Thursday, was 5-of-8 from the field and hit two 3-pointers in his Rockets debut.

Jackson said he didn't expect to take long to adjust to the Rockets since he spent five seasons playing under current Houston coach Rick Adelman in Sacramento.

"That's a big plus," he said. "If I would have gotten traded and came to a situation where I didn't know the offense, it would have been a big mess."

Sunday's win was the Rockets' 16th in the last 17 games, but Houston is still only in seventh place in the West, three games behind the conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers. The Rockets are fourth in the Southwest Division, 2 1/2 games behind San Antonio.

Benefiting from playing in a much weaker conference, the Wizards are sixth in the East despite their recent struggles. Washington is trying to win three straight for the first time since Jan. 11-14.

The Wizards are coming off a 95-92 win over the Hornets on Monday after DeShawn Stevenson hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Wizards almost trailed the entire game before taking a 92-91 lead on Stevenson's two free throws with 14.4 seconds remaining.

After New Orleans hit a free-throw following a lane violation by Antawn Jamison, Stevenson, who finished with a career-high 33 points, hit the game-winner.

"We've been playing great teams and right now, we've been playing it close, but we can't close," Stevenson said. "I think as a whole we kept it together."

Wizards forward Caron Butler missed his ninth consecutive game Monday with a strained left hip flexor. Butler, second on the team with 21.4 points per game, has played just twice since Jan. 29.

Washington is 4-8 without him during that stretch.

The Rockets won their fifth straight over the Wizards, 92-84 on Jan. 8. Houston also has won five in a row at home against Washington.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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