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Bucks-Rockets Preview

AP - Sports

Clinging to the Western Conference's final playoff spot, the Houston Rockets know they must capitalize on prime opportunities to pick up victories.

Houston seeks a sixth straight home win while avoiding a second consecutive loss to a sub-.500 opponent as it hosts the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night.

The Rockets (31-27) lead the ninth-place Los Angeles Lakers by three games and are in the midst of a five-game stretch of playing teams with losing records.

It didn't get off to a good start, though, after a 105-103 at Washington on Saturday. Houston hit 19 of 46 3-point attempts - the most in the NBA this season - but allowed at least 103 points for the eighth time in nine games.

''We shoot a lot of 3s as a team, but I think we got a little 3 happy,'' coach Kevin McHale said. ''We didn't get enough penetration and enough ball movement.''

The Rockets had won three of their previous four - all against teams with winning records - but also had lost to Sacramento on Feb. 10 prior to that stretch.

James Harden scored 27 points and Chandler Parsons netted 24 on Saturday, but Harden knows they missed another solid chance to add to their win total.

After facing the Bucks, the Rockets will play at Orlando on Friday before back-to-back games with Dallas.

"We let two games slip away," Harden told the team's official website of the Sacramento and Washington defeats. "We're not allowed to do that at this point in the season. We (play) a lot of teams under .500 so we've got to do a good job on really focusing in on what we have to do in order to win those games."

New acquisitions Thomas Robinson and Francisco Garcia could make their debuts Wednesday, though how much they'll play - if at all - isn't clear. McHale said they will have to work for spots in the rotation.

"I assume if you would rebound, run and defend, coach might find a spot for you," McHale said.

Harden scored 29 points and Carlos Delfino netted 22 while hitting 6 of 7 3-pointers off the bench in a 115-101 win at Milwaukee on Jan. 4, and this time around they'll face a Bucks team coming off a 95-90 win at Dallas on Tuesday.

Monta Ellis scored a game-high 22 points and Larry Sanders added 13 and 13 rebounds for Milwaukee (27-28), which had dropped three straight and nine of its previous 11.

''We can put that behind us now and build off of that,'' Ellis said.

Despite this recent rough patch, the Bucks still have a five-game advantage over Toronto and Philadelphia for the final playoff spot in the East.

J.J. Redick scored 14 points and played the final minutes instead of starter Brandon Jennings, who shot only 3 of 11 and scored eight points.

''I just felt like that group was playing well together,'' coach Jim Boylan said.

The Bucks were a bit thin on the bench after Samuel Dalembert was suspended for an unspecified team violation. Boylan didn't specify if Dalembert will be in uniform Wednesday.

''Everybody on the team or involved with the team - players, coaches, staff - they have certain responsibilities to the team,'' Boylan said. ''When those responsibilities aren't met, there are consequences.''

Milwaukee's 105-99 win over the Rockets on Jan. 25, 2012, ended an 11-game losing streak in Houston.

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