Indiana (27-34) at Houston (31-32)

By JEFF MEZYDLO, STATS Senior Writer Saturday, Mar 5, 2011 Tipoff: 8:30 pm EST Sat Mar 5, 2011

Desperately trying to move into playoff position, the Houston Rockets know they can’t afford too many more missed opportunities.

The Rockets look to bounce back from their first defeat in more than a week Saturday night when they host the Indiana Pacers, who are trying to maintain their tenuous grip on an Eastern Conference playoff spot.

Houston (31-32) had its five-game winning streak snapped with a 106-103 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. Despite that winning streak, the Rockets are 11th in the Western Conference - three games behind Memphis for the eighth and final playoff spot.

The Rockets shot 41.8 percent against a Clippers team 8 1/2 games behind them in the standings, but coach Rick Adelman is confident they can recover in another seemingly favorable matchup.

“You’re going to lose some games,” Adelman told the Rockets’ official website. “We lost, now you have to respond against Indiana. You can’t give in to it.”

Houston snapped a four-game skid in this series with a 102-99 win at Indiana (27-34) on Nov. 12. Indiana has won the last two meetings in Houston, including a 125-115 victory last season.

“We’re more prepared to win games and we’ll have more chances down the stretch to win games,” said Rockets forward Luis Scola(notes), who had 25 points and 11 rebounds in last season’s home loss to Indiana. “It’s not like I feel well about (Wednesday’s) loss, I just feel well about the way we’re approaching games.”

Kyle Lowry(notes) had 24 points with 11 assists and Courtney Lee(notes) added 18 points off the bench Wednesday as the Rockets gave up more than 90 points for the first time in three games.

Lowry has recorded 11 assists in each of the last two games, and is averaging 21.0 points on 50 percent shooting in his last three. He had 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds against the Pacers in November.

Indiana could have a tough time continuing its recent success in Houston after losing for the fourth time in five games, 116-108 at Dallas on Friday.

Despite their recent rough stretch, the Pacers hold a one-game edge on Charlotte for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

“We’ve always known there are ups and downs with the schedule,” coach Frank Vogel told the Pacers’ official website. “We’re just battling every night. We believe a great deal in ourselves that we are going to make the playoffs.”

Danny Granger(notes) had 22 points and Darren Collison(notes) added 17, but it wasn’t enough as the Pacers allowed more than 110 points for the third time in four games and fell to 0-2 on a three-game trip.

Granger, who bounced back from a nine-point effort in a 113-89 loss at Oklahoma City on Wednesday, scored 36 at Houston last season.

The Pacers are 10-7 since Vogel replaced the fired Jim O’Brien on Jan. 30.

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