Rick Adelman was pleased to see the Houston Rockets survive a four-game, five-night stretch with three victories. He might be even happier to see their next opponent.
The Rockets have won nine of 10 games against the Los Angeles Clippers -- many in convincing fashion -- and they'll look to continue that dominance Tuesday night as the visiting Clippers close their own run of four contests in five nights.
Houston (16-11) won't have Yao Ming this season and has gotten just 31 minutes out of Tracy McGrady, but it's generally played very well despite starting 6-foot-6 Chuck Hayes at center and adjusting to Trevor Ariza as its primary scoring threat.
Ariza, never more than a complementary player in his first five seasons, has struggled to adjust at times, shooting 39.4 percent while attempting twice as many shots as his previous career high.
He carried Houston on Saturday against Oklahoma City, however, a night after Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowry combined for 51 points in an overtime win at Dallas. Ariza scored a game-high 31 and played 47 minutes in the 95-90 home win over the Thunder.
Ariza was 11 of 20 from the floor, but his teammates shot just 38.5 percent. Brooks, who came in averaging 22.8 points over his past six games, scored a season-low five on 2 of 15 shooting.
"There are going to be nights where it's ugly like this, there are going to be nights when shots aren't going to fall but as long as we dig it out and use our work ethic, we give ourselves a chance to win," Hayes, who had a season-high 15 rebounds, told the Rockets' official Web site.
The Rockets nearly blew a 17-point lead, but after coming away with their third win in four nights, Adelman wasn't complaining.
"I think people just keep talking about being surprised that this team is competing, and that's what you have to do in this league if you want to win, and that's one good thing about our team is that we compete," Adelman said.
Brooks was on top of his game when the Rockets faced the Clippers (12-15) at Staples Center on Dec. 2, scoring 22 points on 9 of 11 shooting in a 102-85 victory.
Rookie Chase Budinger had 19 off the bench in that game as Houston beat Los Angeles by at least 15 points for the fifth time in eight meetings.
The Rockets are 10-1 when Budinger scores in double figures, but they won't have him for at least two weeks after he sprained his ankle against Oklahoma City.
Carl Landry, however, should return Tuesday after sitting out against the Thunder following a nasty collision with Dirk Nowitzki that knocked out five of Landry's teeth and put Houston's top reserve in a dentist's chair for five hours.
While Landry and Houston have had time to rest, the Clippers will be looking for a split of their four-game, five-night stretch. Chris Kaman had 23 points and 15 boards Monday against San Antonio -- his fifth-straight 20-point game. But unlike when he led the Clippers to an overtime victory Saturday in Philadelphia, Kaman didn't get much help in a 103-87 loss.
"It's the story of our season ... not being able to finish," Kaman said. "We've had some games where we played well. Tonight wasn't one of them."
Kaman, who's 3-14 in his career versus Houston, had 10 points on 5 of 16 shooting in the Dec. 2 loss to the Rockets.
The Clippers, however, played that game without Eric Gordon, their second-leading scorer (17.6 points per game) behind Kaman. Gordon has averaged 11.0 points in four games against Houston.