Monday, December 5, 2022
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Preview: Houston Rockets (4-16) at Oklahoma City Thunder (6-14)

Christian Wood has turned in two of the best games of his career and the Houston Rockets have some momentum again after a dismal start to the season.

Now to see if they can maintain that on the road.

The Rockets seek their first road win of the season Wednesday when they take on the Oklahoma City Thunder for the second time in three nights, this time in Oklahoma City.

Houston is the only team in the NBA without a road win this season.

In Monday’s 102-89 home win over the Thunder, Wood had a career-high 21 rebounds to go with his team-best 24 points. That follows a career-high 33 points in Saturday’s 146-143 overtime win over Charlotte.

“He’s playing with a lot more energy than he was prior,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said of Wood. “He’s just trying really hard right now. He’s really putting forth a great effort.”

In the Rockets’ current three-game winning streak, Wood is averaging 24.3 points, 15.7 rebounds and three assists. Over the first 17 games, Wood was averaging 15.5 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists.

Houston had dropped 15 consecutive games before their current win streak.

“It’s a feeling that you want to get used to,” Jae’Sean Tate said of the winning streak. “There was a long stretch where we didn’t know what a win felt like. So we’re just trying to build off every game and continue the streak.”

While the Rockets are on the rise, the Thunder have dropped six consecutive games and eight of their last nine.

Rookie guard Tre Mann was one of the bright spots of Monday’s loss, with a career-high 17 points and seven rebounds in 30 minutes off the bench. Mann hadn’t played more than 19 minutes in any of his first 11 NBA games.

“Playing more, getting up more shots, my shots are starting to fall,” Mann said. “But really its the defensive end for me.

“Play hard on defense. Get loose balls, get rebounds. I feel like that’s gonna keep me on the floor longer.”

Mann also is concentrating on getting to the rim more often. In Monday’s game, he made all six of his free throws. He was just 4-for-8 at the line heading into the game.

“I feel like that’s always been in my game,” Mann said. “It’s just showing more now because there’s more space. I’m able to get to the rim more.”

The Thunder are expected to be without Kenrich Williams and Derrick Favors for the second consecutive game. Williams suffered a sprained right ankle in Friday’s loss to Washington while Favors is battling a non-COVID illness.

Mike Muscala, who was a late scratch Monday with right ankle soreness, is listed as questionable.

Wednesday’s game is the last of four between the teams this season. The Rockets have won two of the first three, with the Thunder’s only win coming Nov. 17 in Oklahoma City.

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