Rockets Soaring

The last time the Houston Rockets won 10 straight games, they went on to win their first NBA championship. The last time the Miami Heat lost 10 in a row was last month.

Houston looks to post a double-digit winning streak for the first time in more than 14 years on Thursday when it hosts Miami, which is trying to win for just the second time in its last 26 games.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Houston -11 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 188.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 71% of bets for this game have been placed on Houston -11 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

The Rockets (33-20) have won nine in a row for the first time since the lockout-shortened 1999 season. They haven't won 10 straight since opening the 1993-94 season with 15 consecutive victories before going on to win the NBA title.

The Heat (9-42), meanwhile, are the league's worst team, and their nine-game losing streak isn't even their longest in 2008. Miami lost 15 in a row from Dec. 25-Jan. 24, with 11 of those coming since the new year.

Though their seasons are headed in opposite directions, the Heat got the better of the Rockets in their first meeting in 2007-08, winning 98-91 on Nov. 23 in Miami. That was Houston's sixth straight loss at the time.

The Rockets have been on an entirely different streak lately, winning their last nine games by an average of 8.5 points. They looked a little rusty in their first game after the All-Star break on Tuesday, hitting just 32.5 percent of their shots in the first half in Cleveland, but they shot 50.0 percent after halftime en route to a 93-85 win.

"We don't want to get tired of winning," said Tracy McGrady, who scored 17 points. "A lot of people probably thought the break would be bad for us because we had so much momentum, so much swagger. But everybody came back and we said, 'Let's start it off right.'"

The Rockets keep winning despite the struggles of McGrady, who is averaging 12.4 points and shooting 31.5 percent from the field over his last five games.

McGrady and Yao Ming were a combined 9-for-38 from the field for 33 points Tuesday, but the rest of the team shot 23-for-41. Rookie Luis Scola, who's averaging 10.8 points during the winning streak, had 15, while Rafer Alston had 22 points.

Alston is averaging 15.0 points and 7.3 assists in the team's last nine games.

"What we're developing on this team is a team like the Pistons," McGrady said. "Great defensive team, going out there and playing together and not relying on one or two people to score the rock."

The Rockets have allowed an average of just 84.3 points in their last seven games, and are facing a Miami team scoring a league-low 92.7 per game.

When the Heat beat Houston in November, it was largely due to Shaquille O'Neal's 26 points and 14 rebounds - both season highs with Miami. But now O'Neal is in Phoenix and four-time All-Star Shawn Marion is trying to help the Heat turn things around.

Marion couldn't have done much more in his first three games with Miami. He's averaged 20.3 points, 13.0 rebounds and 3.0 steals so far, and though the Heat are still losing, he sees some potential.

"There's a lot of life out there for us," he said after scoring 23 points in the team's 99-92 loss at Chicago on Thursday.

Marion had plenty of experience facing the Rockets when he played for the Suns. He averaged 18.7 points and 9.5 rebounds in 31 career games against Houston.

Between the time when O'Neal went down with a hip injury in late January and Marion's arrival, Dwyane Wade was struggling to find his game. He averaged just 16.6 points on 37.7 percent shooting in five games from Jan. 29-Feb. 7, but since Marion has been in the lineup, Wade is averaging 26.0 points and 8.7 assists while shooting 45.3 percent.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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