CAVALIERS AT ROCKETS, 8 P.M. ET

TV: League Pass

  • The short-handed Cavaliers will try to put Wednesday’s second-half collapse against the Heat behind them when they take on the Rockets in Houston on Friday. Cleveland coach Byron Scott said his team, which set a franchise record Wednesday by squandering a 27-point lead, should not experience a hangover effect as long as it understands that it must continue to play with the enthusiasm and competitive spirit it displayed against Miami. “Our guys played about as hard as they could play [Wednesday],” Scott said. “It’s not a situation where we quit or didn’t lay it out there, and I don’t think we will be feeling sorry for ourselves.”
  • Scott said his biggest concern with the powerful Houston offense is defending James Harden and Jeremy Lin in pick-and-roll situations. “They’re just going to try to get you to space out,” Scott said. “Our bigs are so important tonight as far as really trying to corral those guys and not allow them to get downhill, because once they beat the bigs they’re in trouble.”
  • Lin has scored at least 20 points in three consecutive games for the first time since his memorable “Linsanity” run as a Knick. March has been Lin’s most consistent month with the Rockets, as the third-year point guard has averaged 16.9 points on 53.9 percent shooting. Coach Kevin McHale said Lin was due for a highly productive stretch, considering his increased commitment to driving toward the rim. “Jeremy has done a great job of putting the ball on the ground, getting the ball in the paint and kind of going at the rim,” McHale said. “That always helps your shooting percentage. [He's been able to] get three or four lay-ins in a game.”
  • Houston (37-31) has suffered the consequences of overlooking struggling opponents such as the Cavaliers (22-46) on several occasions this season, going 15-15 against teams with a losing record. With matchups against divisional leaders San Antonio and Indiana on the horizon, the young Rockets’ focus and mental maturity will be put to the test against a Cleveland club that sits in the basement of the Central Division.

Matt Miller

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