The New York Knicks had no answer to their last opponent's play inside the paint. The Houston Rockets showed in their last game that even without Yao Ming, they still can move the ball inside.
On Sunday, the Rockets visit the slumping Knicks, trying to build off their second win of the season.
Houston (2-6) has won two of three after improving its defense. After allowing opponents to average 116.4 points over a five-game losing streak to open the season, its last three opponents have been held to 97.0 per game.
The Rockets are coming off a 102-99 win at Indiana on Friday. Playing their first game without Yao, who sustained a sprained left ankle Wednesday and is expected to miss at least a week, Brad Miller stepped up in his first start. He totaled 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Miller signed a free agent deal in July with Houston after averaging 8.8 points and 4.9 rebounds with Chicago last season. He was expected to backup Yao, but had averaged only 4.7 points while shooting 39.1 percent before Friday. Now, he could be seeing a lot more playing time along with second-year player Jordan Hill.
"We desperately needed this and we played like we desperately needed it," said Kyle Lowry, who finished with 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds. "Brad played big. Everybody stepped up tonight and we finished the game."
Miller will try to duplicate his performance against a New York team that has lost four in a row. Miller scored 21 points and had 10 rebounds when he faced the Knicks last February while with the Bulls.
New York (3-6) is coming off a disappointing loss after it blew a 21-point third-quarter lead against Minnesota on Friday before falling 112-103.
Danilo Gallinari scored 25 points, but he struggled in the second half. New York shot 27.9 percent after the break, with Gallinari scoring only seven points.
The Knicks also had no answer to Kevin Love, who finished with 31 points and 31 rebounds. Minnesota outrebounded New York 56-43 and scored 48 points in the paint.
It didn't help that Amare Stoudemire was limited by foul trouble. He had 14 points and nine rebounds in 28 minutes and played only 13 minutes in the second half.
"It's definitely tough," Stoudemire said. "But this just goes on my shoulders. I take this loss on me. I got in foul trouble. Once I got in foul trouble, they took advantage of that."
After winning four of their first six games, the Knicks have been held below 40-percent shooting in two of three games while averaging 99.0 points during the losing streak. They continue to rely heavily on 3-point shooting, going 11 of 29 Friday after connecting on 15 of 69 the previous three games.
New York's offense has struggled against Houston as well. The Rockets have won 10 of 11 against the Knicks and swept last season's two games. They have held New York to 92.5 points per game over those 11 contests.