The Rockets will look to defeat the Thunder franchise for the 13th straight time Saturday night when the teams meet for the third time in 2009-10.
Houston (15-11) has not lost to Oklahoma City (13-12) since the franchise moved from Seattle prior to last season and has won 18 of the last 19 meetings. The last loss for the Rockets came to the SuperSonics on April 4, 2006 and they have won the last nine meetings in Houston.
That hasn't changed though Houston has been without Yao Ming all season and Tracy McGrady is making a slow recovery from knee surgery. The Rockets, who have used McGrady sparingly over their last three games, have gotten 21-point performances from Carl Landry in both wins over Oklahoma City this season.
The Thunder could have an advantage since Landry's availability is unclear. He was taken to an emergency room after breaking several teeth in a second-quarter collision near the basket with Dirk Nowitzki during Friday's 116-108 overtime win at Dallas.
Landry, who averages 16.0 points, scored two in seven minutes and is day-to-day.
"Carl is our big guy off the bench and he wasn't here tonight," said guard Kyle Lowry after he came off the bench to score a career-high 26 points with 10 assists. "Hopefully all's well with him, but that's what our team is, we're a complete team. We don't have the superstar name..."
Not only may the Rockets be short-handed, but they will be facing an Oklahoma City team that is seeing its young players improve. Rookies James Harden and Serge Ibaka combined for a total of 16 points in the first two meetings with Houston.
However, they were a major factor Friday in helping Oklahoma City end a three-game slide. Harden scored 14 points and Ibaka added 12 as they made big plays down the stretch in a 109-98 win over Detroit.
"Those two rookies, they came in and did a great job of controlling the game in the fourth quarter," coach Scott Brooks said.
Harden scored Oklahoma City's first seven points of the fourth quarter and finished with a season high-tying eight assists.
"We drafted him to be a playmaker," Brooks said of Harden, taken third overall from Arizona State. "We've got some pretty good scorers on our team, and he can score the ball, there's no doubt. He's done it in college and he did it at a very good clip, but he's a playmaker. He makes good plays."
It was a game Oklahoma City wanted badly before beginning this three-game trip that includes matchups against Phoenix and the Los Angeles Lakers.
"It was really big," Harden said. "We lost three straight. This was our last home game before we go on a three-game road stretch so we wanted to come out here and prove ourselves."
Houston blew a 10-point lead over the final three minutes of regulation Friday before Aaron Brooks scored nine of his 25 in the extra session.
"Our guys struggled at the end of regulation, but they had a nice overtime, so it was a really good win," coach Rick Adelman said.