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Oklahoma City Thunder vs Houston Rockets: 2011-2012 Game 29 Preview

Records: Oklahoma City Thunder (22-6) at Houston Rockets (16-13)

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

Previous Meeting(s): Jan. 6, Jan. 7 (Thunder lead series 2-0)

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The Thunder travel to Houston tonight on the second night of yet another back-to-back game. The Thunder have done well this season in these types of situations, but it is always difficult heading out on the road for the second game. Houston will be looking to rebound from last night's loss to the Grizzlies and remain competitive in the West. Their loss to Memphis was costly, since they will be battling with the Grizz for a playoff spot this season and they need a win tonight to not lose any more of their slight lead.

The last time OKC was in Houston the Rockets were without their star guard Kyle Lowry. Now that they have him back and healthy, it is going to be very interesting to see how OKC contends with his physical style of play. The types of teams that have given the Thunder the most trouble are the ones that have aggressive guards who can generate offense. Even the last time out, backup PG Goran Dragic played exceptionally well and nearly led his team to victory. OKC must do a better job defending the perimeter tonight if they are to seek out another win.

The Thunder will still need to control the paint as they have done in the past two wins against Utah. Luis Scola has always done a good job against the Thunder in rebounding the ball, so Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka must keep a body on him to prevent the easy put-backs. If the Thunder can eliminate the Rockets' interior threat, they will have an easier job concentrating on the Rockets guards, which will pose the most difficulty tonight.

A final word on one element that will be missing tonight. If you recall, it was during the last visit to Houston that Eric Maynor injured his knee and was lost for the season. Since then, the Thunder have had to rework their bench around Reggie Jackson as well as Daequan Cook, who has been playing in the injured Thabo Sefolosha's place. Let's hope the team stays healthy tonight and plays strong for their injured teammates.

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Prediction: Thunder 105, Rockets 98