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Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets: 2011-2012 Game 9 Preview; Repeat Performance?

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Records: Oklahoma City Thunder (6-2) at Houston Rockets (2-5)

Time: 7:00 PM Central Standard Time

Place: Toyota Center, Houston, TX

TV: Fox Sports Network Houston, FSOKHD

Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), Newsradio 750 KXL

Enemy Blog(s): The Dream Shake, Red 94

***

The Thunder travel to Houston tonight to play a rematch of last night's 109-94 rout. In that game, the Thunder had a clear offensive plan in place in attacking the soft underbelly of the Rockets' interior defense. The challenge tonight will be to see if the Thunder can replicate those efforts.

The x-factor tonight will be to see if Kyle Lowry plays. While Goran Dragic did an admirable job in his place, tallying 10 points and 11 assists, it was clear that Houston missed Lowry's point production and overall running of the team. Perhaps hurt most by it was Luis Scola, who had a subpar game in getting only 10 points and 2 rebounds. More specifically, it seemed like he was not receiving the ball in the spots he wanted, which further hurt the Rockets' chances.

Scola has performed well against the Thunder in the past, and I would think that his weak performance last night won't be replicated at home. He missed a number of makable shots that would have vastly improved Houston's chances at staying competitive.

The Rockets should be tougher at home, but it is difficult to see that their defense will put up much more fight tonight. The game should be closer, but as long as the Thunder adhere to a similar game plan the outcome should be the same.

Prediction: Thunder 103, Rockets 95