Rockets 106, Nets 96
NEW YORK -- The Houston Rockets might have only dressed 10 players to face the Brooklyn Nets Friday night, but that was more than enough -- as long as James Harden was one of the 10.
After a slow start, Harden had 22 points to lead the Rockets to a solid 106-96 victory over the Nets at the Barclays Center.
The Rockets (31-26) won for the 13th straight time against the Nets. Brooklyn saw its four-game win streak snapped, as the Nets dropped to 33-23.
Brooklyn had a chance to take first place in the Atlantic Division with a win, considering the New York Knicks had already lost to the Toronto Raptors. But that opportunity was eliminated by Houston's solid play.
Carlos Delfino scored 22 points and the Rockets got a solid contribution from their bench, which was depleted after Houston made a six-player trade before Thursday's deadline. The acquired players did not arrive in Brooklyn in time for the game. The Rockets' bench combined to add 33 points. Houston got 10 points each from Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik and Greg White.
Brook Lopez paced all scorers with 27 points. C.J. Watson had 17 points, starting for the injured Joe Johnson, and Deron Williams had 15 points and 13 assists. Mirza Teletovic had 12 points off the bench for Brooklyn.
The Nets had cut a 15-point lead down to 97-94 with 2:18 left, but the Rockets took over, nailing clutch shot after clutch shot.
Delfino nailed a long 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down with 1:54 left to push the lead to 100-94 and he added another shot just inside the circle with 1:14 left to make it 102-96. Harden then sealed the deal with a 3-pointer with 39 seconds left.
Both teams shot the ball well in the first period, as the Nets clicked on 59 percent and the Rockets at 61 percent, thus the reason for a high-scoring first quarter. Houston led, 34-31 at the end of the first period.
The Rockets then gradually pulled away in the second quarter, taking a 52-42 lead with 4:52 left as Harden was unstoppable, going coast-to-coast for an uncontested layup.
The Nets cut the lead to 56-50 on a driving basket from Gerald Wallace, but Parsons countered with a long 3-pointer from the right corner, pushing the lead to 59-50 with 51.8 seconds left in the half.
Houston led 61-53 at the half, continuing their fine perimeter shooting. The Rockets made 25 of 43 shots at the half, good for 58 percent.
Parsons had 10 points to lead the Rockets at halftime, while Lopez had a game-high 15 to pace the Nets.
The Nets scored the first four points of the third quarter, when Lopez scored on an alley-oop dunk off a pass from Williams and then hit a 17-footer off glass, slicing the lead to 61-57.
Williams nailed a step-back 3-pointer that brought Brooklyn to within 64-62 with 8:47 left in the third, then added two free throws to tie the game 64-64 with 7:47 remaining, capping a 7-0 run.
But Harden nailed two consecutive 3-pointers at the end of the third quarter, as the Rockets pushed the lead back to 83-75, then hit a free throw to make it 84-75 as the fourth quarter began. Harden scored all seven of the Rockets' final points in the period.
James Anderson and Patrick Beverley hit consecutive 3-pointers for the Rockets, capping a 13-0 run for the Rockets and giving Houston a 90-75 lead with 10:23 left in the quarter.
Notes: Johnson was out for the Nets with a sore left heel. It was reported to be a plantar fasciitis, but the team would not confirm the severity of the injury, just that he's day-to-day. It's not known how long Johnson, the team's second leading scorer at 17.0 points per game, will be out of action. Watson started in Johnson's absence. ... The Rockets, who completed a six-player trade with the Sacramento Kings Wednesday, were without the players they acquired, namely Francisco Garcia and Thomas Robinson, who did not report to the team as of yet. ... Nets interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo said that he was glad that the trading deadline came and went without any change to his roster. "I like this team," Carlesimo said. "The deadline wasn't a concern for me. It might have been for the players that were involved in the rumors." ... Nets general manager Billy King was also pleased he didn't pull the trigger on rumored trades for Josh Smith and Paul Pierce. "It was fun to hear and read the rumors that we were involved with. But once three o'clock came, I was out the door and went to scout a college game." ... There were hundreds of fans at the Barclays Center wearing Rockets No. 17 jerseys in honor of Jeremy Lin, who received a host of cheers playing in his first game in Brooklyn. Lin was a sensation last year with the Knicks.
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