NEW YORK -- Eric Gordon's sprained left big toe was not normal Friday and neither was the pace and 3-point rhythm of the Houston Rockets. Pace and rhythm returned in a big way for the Rockets, who also mixed in effective second-half defense against the worst team in the league. Gordon scored 24 points, James Harden recorded his 12th triple-double of the season with 22 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds as Houston snapped its first losing streak of the season with a 137-112 rout of the Brooklyn Nets Sunday night. Gordon returned from missing two games with the injury and missed six of nine 3-pointers Friday when the Rockets misfired on 21 of 24 long range attempts after halftime and blew a 16-point lead in a 110-105 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. "We're still scoring at a high level, but when we play really good defense it's really hard for teams to beat us because we really space the floor well and offensively we're going to be hard to stop," Gordon said. Facing the Nets, Gordon made four 3-pointers, was among four Rockets with four 3s on a night when Houston set a season high with 21 3-pointers, came within three of its season high for points and shot 47.7 percent from the perimeter. "It's just about a rhythm and tonight our rhythm was there," Houston forward Trevor Ariza said. Harden reached his latest triple-double in 32 minutes and only played 1:58 in the fourth as the Rockets formally secured their 10th win in 12 games. He had his 35th double-double by the end of the third when Houston held a 104-90 lead and reached his 10th assist by setting a 3-pointer by Ariza with 6:46 left that hiked the lead to 124-99. Ariza also rebounded from a rough night and added 23. He tied a season high by hitting six 3s missing five of six Friday. Montrezel Harrell contributed 16 while Ryan Anderson and Patrick Beverley chipped in 12 apiece. The Rockets also came within two of their most points scored against the Nets but for as nice as the return to normalcy was for the offense, so was the defense after taking a 74-66 halftime lead. Houston outscored the Nets 63-46 after intermission, forced 11 turnovers and limited the Nets to 6 of 21 from 3-point range. Those figures allowed the Rockets to make 11 of their 3-pointers and lead by as much as 31. "Second half we did a better job of locking down, which created some better opportunities on offense," Harden said. "It started really on the defensive end," Houston coach Mike D'Antoni said. "To me, it's an energy thing. Shooting is energy. Playing good offense is good energy and defense is energy." While the Rockets generated the energy on both ends, the Nets wilted after hanging around in the first halftime. It resulted in their second 10-game losing streak in the last nine months and their most points allowed at Barclays Center. "They want to play with a pace," Brooklyn forward Bojan Bogdanovic said. "They also shot well tonight and that's the main reason why we lost the game." It also resulted in the first time the Nets allowed at least 130 points in consecutive games since April 15-17, 1987 at Atlanta and Detroit. "We just could never stop them," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "I don't think we tried a lot of different things, tried changing coverages and couldn't find a solution. "Potent, powerful offensive team that we couldn't find the defensive switch." Brook Lopez rested for the fourth time and his replacement Justin Hamilton scored 11 points. Trevor Booker led the Nets with 18 points, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 14, Randy Foye contributed 13 but those figures could not overcome a 50-38 rebounding margin and 18 turnovers. The Rockets matched their most productive first half of the season despite Harden only scoring nine points. Houston ripped off 13 straight points in the opening minutes of the third quarter and eventually pushed their lead to 92-73 on two free throws by Anderson with about 4 1/2 minutes left. The Rockets reached the century mark with 1:42 left on a reverse baseline dunk by Sam Dekker, who had another dunk on Houston's next possession. Harden ended the third with a spinning foul line jumper over rookie Caris LeVert right before time expired. Harden was on the bench when the Rockets finished it off in the opening minutes of the fourth. They opened the quarter with a 9-2 spurt on layups by Dekker, Harrell and Beverley along with a 3-pointer by Gordon. NOTES: Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson cited recent scheduling for not playing C Brook Lopez. Before Sunday, the Nets played six games in nine nights and Lopez played 194 of 288 minutes. He also sat out road games against the Toronto Raptors on Dec. 20, Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 14 and Milwaukee Bucks on Oct. 29. ... Houston plays five games in seven nights this week, but coach Mike D'Antoni said he has no intention of resting anyone unless a trainer tells him otherwise. Asked about getting credit for being the first coach to emphasize 3-pointers in a year when many teams are doing so on offense, D'Antoni quipped, "It's always nice to know you're not completely crazy. ... Houston C Clint Capela (fractured left fibula) traveled with the team for the first time since getting hurt on Dec. 17 and will practice Monday. If his practice goes well, he could return from a 15-game absence on Tuesday in Miami.
Harden's triple-double leads Rockets past Nets
The Sports Xchange | Jan 15