HOUSTON (CBS Radio) – The Rockets’ bid for their fifth straight win fell short as they lost to the winless Brooklyn Nets, 106-98 at Toyota Center. The Nets grabbed 60 rebounds, including 20 offensive rebounds, to the Rockets’ 45 and Brooklyn scored 33 second chance points to just 12 for Houston as those stats proved the difference in the game.
“Their offensive rebounding killed us,” Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said. “We had too much penetration drawing our big guys over. They’re getting up on the board and they were coming back and tipping it, getting it. (Brook) Lopez was getting it.”
The Nets’ Bojan Bogdanovic led all scorers with 22 points and four of his teammates were also in double figures as they scored a season-high 106 points. James Harden led the Rockets with 23 points along with nine assists and six rebounds while Dwight Howard had 20 points and 17 rebounds along with a season-high five blocks. It was his third straight game with a double-double. Marcus Thornton added 21 along with a seven assists.
Even with Terrene Jones’ return from an eye injury, McHale stayed with the small starting lineup of Ty Lawson, Harden, Thornton, Trevor Ariza and Howard. After missing their first five shots, the Rockets settled in and eventually went on a 17-4 run midway through the first quarter for the first of their two 10-point leads during the first quarter. The Nets’ offense stayed in the game with 11 second chance points as they pounded the offensive boards. Harden, the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week after leading the Rockets to four straight wins and scoring over 40 points per game against the Kings and Clippers, picked up where he left off with 12 points in the first quarter in a 28-22 Houston lead.
Marcus Thornton caught fire in the second. Within a three minute stretch, he had a steal, 11-foot jumper, assist on an alley-oop dunk to Howard, driving layup, rebound and putback layup. By halftime, he had 10 points, five assists and two rebounds. Howard had a double-double by halftime with 12 points and 10 rebounds, leading the Rockets’ high scoring attack in the paint throughout the night. But Nets center Brook Lopez kept his team in the game. He entered the Wednesday’s contest averaging 20.4 points per game and scored the team’s first eight points of the quarter. And the Nets kept pounding the glass and scoring second chance points, giving the Rockets just a six point, 55-49 lead at the half.
The Rockets scored 34 points in the third quarter, including five three-pointers. After missing shootaround Wednesday morning to deal with Houston toll issues, Pat Beverley saw his first action with 4:48 left in the quarter and drained one of those threes to give Houston a 79-68 lead, their biggest lead of the game, but the Rockets only led by four at the end of the third. Lopez was getting help from his Nets teammates on the offensive end and by the end of the quarter, five Nets players were in double figures.
Even though the Nets outscored the Rockets 27-15 in the fourth quarter, it was still a tight ballgame, but in the end the Nets prevailed and improved to 1-7.
“Kinda knew this team was desperate for a win,” Thornton said. “We played our style of basketball in spurts but we didn’t sustain it the whole game.”
“They just totally came in here and outworked us,” Ariza said. “We didn’t play with any type of energy, we didn’t play to our potential at all and this is what happens — you lose.”