Rockets-Nets Preview

The Associated Press

The Houston Rockets have lost a season-high five straight and now could be without Kyle Lowry as they continue a five-game road trip.

It could help that their next opponent, the New Jersey Nets, may be without Deron Williams.

Lowry said he doesn't expect to play when the Rockets visit the Nets on Saturday night, looking to win their 11th straight in the series.

Houston, which is trying to avoid losing six straight for the first time since Nov. 13-23, 2007, said Friday that Lowry had checked into a local New York hospital Thursday with a fever and abdominal distress.

Lowry said on Twitter that he would be "out of commission for a while."

Lowry is second on the team with 15.9 points per game and first with 7.2 assists. He scored 16 points in a 116-98 loss at Toronto on Wednesday but has 22 turnovers with just 24 assists while shooting 37.5 percent during Houston's skid.

The Rockets (21-19) trailed the Raptors 71-54 before cutting the deficit to four points in the fourth quarter, but Toronto responded with a 15-2 run to put the game away.

Houston lost in overtime at Boston the night before, but coach Kevin McHale said there's no excuse.

"We're playing basketball, we're not doing a ... 12-hour shift in the mines," he said. "We've really got to get ourselves together."

One player struggling is leading scorer Kevin Martin, who was held to seven points on 1-of-7 shooting in Toronto. After averaging 21.0 points through his first 20 games, he's averaging 14.2 and shooting 38.3 percent since.

Martin has played well against the Nets, though, averaging 26.5 points in his last four versus New Jersey.

The Rockets, who have lost five straight on the road, also aren't helping themselves defensively, averaging 107.8 points allowed during the overall skid. They allowed the Raptors to shoot 64.9 percent in the first half Wednesday.

"We've got to go out there and keep battling hard," McHale said. "We've just got to find a way to have more defensive effort and more defensive energy."

Houston has won 10 in a row over New Jersey (14-27) and could get a break if Williams is unable to go.

The star point guard left in the second quarter of the Nets' 83-74 win at Charlotte on Friday with a sore right calf. He'll be re-evaluated before Saturday's game.

Houston has done a good job lately of shutting down Williams, who is averaging 22.0 points this season but just 13.7 on 29.7 percent shooting his last three games against the Rockets - two while with Utah.

The Nets feel they can be competitive even without Williams. On Friday, Kris Humphries finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds while Anthony Morrow added 17 points off the bench.

New Jersey was coming off a 101-100 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, giving the Nets back-to-back victories for the second time this season. They are 6-4 over their last 10, including wins against Chicago, New York and Dallas.

"We have been fighting through all kinds of adversity with injuries and things, but the main thing is we're sticking together," Morrow said. "We have great team chemistry on and off the court."

New Jersey hasn't won three straight in nearly a year, since a five-game run last March.

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