7 P.M. at HOUSTON • TOYOTA CENTER • Ch. 29, NBA TV, 830-AM
Preview: The 35-30 Rockets are 6-4 in their past 10 games after beating Phoenix 111-81 at home Wednesday and are holding onto that seventh playoff spot in the West with the Lakers and Utah in pursuit. …The Wolves have won four of the past five meetings between the teams and have won three in a row at Toyota Center, but this is their first and only visit this season. … The Rockets won the season’s first meeting 87-84 at Target Center when James Harden scored 15 of his 30 points in the game’s final 6:19 on the day after Christmas. The Wolves won 92-79 three weeks later when newcomers Chris Johnson and Mickael Gelabale combined to score 23 fourth-quarter points in their debuts.
Players to watch: G James Harden is fifth in the league in scoring with a 26.2 ppg average, fifth in steals (1.9), second in free throws made and first in free throws attempted. His streak of 28 consecutive games with at least one steal ended Wednesday against the Suns. … Rockets rookie F Donatas Montiejunas – acquired with that 20th overall pick owned by the Wolves in a 2011 draft-day trade when the Wolves used the choice to trade down repeatedly — scored a career-high 19 points Wednesday.
Injuries: Wolves C Nikola Pekovic (abdominal strain), F Andrei Kirilenko (calf strain), F Kevin Love (hand surgery), F Chase Budinger (knee surgery), G Brandon Roy (knees), G Malcolm Lee (knee, hip surgeries) are out. Rockets G Harden has a sore foot and C Omer Asik a sore groin, but both started and played regular minutes on Wednesday. JERRY ZGODA