Friday, February 22, 2013 10:08 pm
Rockets beat Nets for 13th straight time, 106-96
By BRIAN MAHONEYAP Basketball Writer
Houston blew most of a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter before Delfino hit a big 3-pointer with 1:54 left. He later made another jumper before Harden followed with a 3-pointer to put it away.
Delfino made six 3-pointers. Harden, coming off a career-high, 46-point game Wednesday against Oklahoma City, made four 3s and finished 7 of 14 from the field.
Brook Lopez scored 27 points for the Nets, who played without starting guard Joe Johnson for the first time this season because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Deron Williams added 15 points and 13 assists, but shot 5 of 17 as Brooklyn had its four-game winning streak snapped.
The Rockets haven't lost to the Nets since March 13, 2006, in Houston. They haven't lost to the Nets on the road since March 31, 2003, in New Jersey - two homes ago for the nomadic Nets.
The Rockets also beat the Sonics-Thunder franchise 13 straight times from 2007-09 and Minnesota from 2007-11.
Brooklyn missed a chance to tie New York for first place in the Atlantic Division after the Knicks fell in Toronto.
Houston built a big lead early in the fourth quarter but got sloppy, committing a series of offensive fouls and letting the Nets run off nine straight points at one point. Mirza Teletovic, who scored nine of his 12 in the fourth quarter, hit a 3-pointer that cut it to 97-94 with 2:57 to go before Delfino and Harden had the finishing flurry.
The Rockets used only nine players. Newcomers Thomas Robinson, the No. 5 pick in last year's draft, Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt weren't available because Patrick Patterson, Toney Douglas and Cole Aldrich, the players traded to Sacramento on Wednesday, hadn't gotten their physicals done in time. The Rockets hope they will be available Saturday at Washington.
The Rockets shot 62 percent in the first quarter, but led only 34-31 after the Nets made 59 percent. The Nets cooled off to only 39 percent in the second quarter, but the bigger problem was their defense.
Brooklyn repeatedly botched its defensive coverages, allowing the Rockets' big men to get wide open inside the lane. Houston took a 10-point lead midway through the period and was ahead 61-53 at the break, with an amazingly balanced effort featuring eight players scoring between six and 10 points.
The Nets quickly evened it up in the third and it remained close until Harden scored the final seven points of the period in the last 1:11, giving Houston an 84-75 lead. James Anderson and Patrick Beverley opened the fourth with consecutive 3-pointers, pushing it to 90-75.
Omer Asik had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Rockets. Jeremy Lin finished with nine points and six assists, the former Knicks star getting a nice ovation before the game.
Notes: Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov was at the game. Though the Russian billionaire said during his season-opening press conference that a conference finals trip would be a successful season, general manager Billy King said Prokhorov never told that to him. King made no moves before the trade deadline and said he hoped the Nets continued to improve with more time together. ... Johnson leads the Nets with 38 minutes per game.