Rockets-Suns Preview

The Associated Press

Houston Rockets guard James Harden is coming off his highest-scoring game of the season, but it's possible he won't be available for an encore Sunday night.

With Harden having suffered a hyperextended right elbow, Houston could be without its backcourt star when it visits the red-hot Phoenix Suns.

Harden scored 34 of his 39 points after halftime in a 102-99 overtime loss to Golden State on Thursday. He was injured when he collided with teammate Jeremy Lin in the final minutes of regulation.

Though he stayed in the game, Harden underwent postgame X-rays and initially feared he had broken his arm.

"I couldn't really even grab the ball," said Harden, who's averaged 34.3 points in his last three contests. "I couldn't dribble with my right or do anything, so it was tough."

Despite the injury, Harden could play against the Suns, as he practiced Saturday.

The Rockets (37-18) will be trying to get back on track after having their eight-game winning streak snapped, with poor shooting a major culprit. Houston made 50.5 percent from the field during the eight straight wins before hitting 36.6 percent against the Warriors.

"It's OK, we're in a good place right now," Harden told the team's official website. "We didn't play well but we still had so many opportunities to win that game. They hit a couple tough shots ... We've got another game on Sunday and just have to get back on a roll."

Center Dwight Howard, who averaged 24.1 points and shot 60.6 percent during the win streak, scored 11 points and went 4 of 13 on Thursday. He did, however, have 21 rebounds and four blocks.

The Rockets will likely need Howard to bounce back if they're going to keep up with Phoenix, winner of four of five and 11 of 15. The Suns (33-21) have averaged 110.0 points in their last four victories and 108.6 in the past 15 games.

The latest win came in impressive fashion, with Phoenix routing visiting San Antonio 106-85 on Friday. The Suns shot a staggering 64.9 percent (37 for 57) on 2-point field goals, lifting them to the lopsided victory as they overcame a 5-for-25 effort from beyond the arc.

The Suns got 60 points from their reserves, led by Markieff Morris (21) and Ish Smith (career-high 15).

''The biggest thing with us is we want to play that pace," Smith said. "We want to constantly push the ball, push the ball. That's what makes us really good.''

Smith has helped the club overcome injuries to point guards Eric Bledsoe and Leandro Barbosa. Smith, who played for Houston in 2010-11 and has been with six teams in his four-year career, added seven rebounds and four assists as he continued to emerge as a key role player.

He has recorded 18 assists and nine turnovers in his last eight games.

"Ish is special. It's harder because he's so small and when he goes low, it's even harder to stay in front of him," starting point guard Goran Dragic said.

The Suns have won seven of the last eight matchups with the Rockets in Phoenix.

Harden struggled with his shooting in the first two games against the Suns this season, making 25.9 percent from the field and 20.0 percent from 3-point range while totaling 37 points. The teams split those contests, both in Houston.