NBA Basketball: Houston Rockets at Cleveland Cavaliers – Cavs Favored
James looks to keep up his torrid pace for the Cleveland Cavaliers when they host the Rockets on Monday night.
Following a rough stretch of games leading up to the All-Star break during which he appeared tired, James has been playing with a renewed confidence and swagger of late.
James scored 36 points Saturday, making 15 of 17 free throws to exceed the 30-point mark for the third straight game in Cleveland’s 120-97 rout of Toronto. The victory was the second for the Cavs (34-25) in three contests.
"I’ve got to get to the rim, and I’ve got to go up there and make my free throws,” said James, who entered Saturday making just 67.5 percent of his foul shots. "I did that tonight and I’m going to continue to do that.”
The three-time All-Star is averaging 33.6 points on 53.8 percent shooting in his last seven games after averaging just 19.6 points on 40.3 percent from the field in the previous seven contests.
James’ scoring average during the earlier seven-game stretch is similar to his career number against Houston (36-23). In seven contests against the Rockets, he’s averaging 19.9 points – his lowest total against any opponent.
James had 21 points on 7-of-22 shooting in an 81-63 loss to the Rockets on Dec. 2, when the Cavs finished with a season low in points and shot a season-worst 28.2 percent from the floor.
Cleveland has dropped six of its last seven to Houston, including three straight at Quicken Loans Arena. James averaged 17.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists in those home losses.
While James has struggled to find his shooting touch against the Rockets, McGrady has topped the 30-point mark in six of his seven meetings with the Cavs star, averaging 31.1 points in those contests.
The only time McGrady didn’t break 30 was the Dec. 2 meeting, when he left the game with a mild concussion after getting hit in the face by teammate Dikembe Mutombo’s elbow in the first quarter. He had seven points in 11 minutes before departing.
McGrady had 21 points, all in the first half, as the Rockets lost 97-74 to San Antonio on Saturday. Houston shot 38.5 percent from the floor and committed 19 turnovers that led to 27 points.
"For us to turn the ball over 10 times in the first quarter, that just says it all right there,” said McGrady, who’s averaging 29.0 points in six games since the All-Star break.
The Rockets have lost five of their last eight, and other than McGrady have been struggling offensively. They’re averaging 86.0 points on 40.5 percent shooting in their last four games, losing three of them.
Houston has won two straight road contests, however, and has the sixth-best road record in the league at 16-13.
Cleveland, meanwhile, has won five of its last six at Quicken Loans Arena, and has the sixth-best home mark in the NBA at 22-8.
By: Marc Young – theSpread.com – Email Us
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