Rockets beat Nets on barrage of threes

Nets got within three points in the fourth quarter before falling short
02/22/2013 10:56 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

James Harden led the Rockets with 22 points, while Deron Williams had 15 points and 13 assists.(AP)

BROOKLYN - James Harden had 22 points, including a three-pointer in the final minute to put the game out of reach, as the Houston Rockets held off a pesky Brooklyn Nets squad to record a 106-96 win at Barclays Center on Friday night and stretch their winning streak against the Nets to 13.

Playing without Joe Johnson, who sat out due to plantar fasciitis, Brooklyn (33-23) got big nights from Brook Lopez (27 points) and Deron Williams (15 points, 13 assists), but interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo wasn't pleased with the overall performance.  

"It's not about one guy or two guys. They shot 53 percent, we shot 44, and we didn't do some of the things we needed to do offensively or defensively," Carlesimo said. "They did more of the things they wanted to do than we were able to do. … We didn't make enough plays (and made) too many mistakes to beat a good team."

One of those "mistakes" Carlesimo pointed to was the Nets' inability to convert on second chances, as they corralled 14 offensive rebounds but shot just 2-for-17 on those ensuing possessions.

"We needed to finish a little better in the paint and convert our second chances. We had 14 offensive rebounds, which was great, but we didn't take advantage of them," Carlesimo said.

One of the things Carlesimo did praise was his team's resilience, especially in the second half. The Nets completely erased an eight-point halftime deficit in the third quarter and then cut a 15-point hole early in the fourth down to three after Mirza Teletovic's jumper with 2:57 remaining.

Houston (31-26) closed on a 9-2 run, with Harden's triple with 39.8 seconds to go - the Rockets' 16th in 30 attempts - being the final dagger, but Carlesimo was happy with how the team kept the clawing until the very end.

"We defended so much better in the second half; we lost them for a couple back-breaking threes, but we played so much better in terms of what we were trying to do in the second half," Carlesimo said. "We didn't execute our game plan very well in the first half, and dug a big hole, but we clawed back in twice to the point where we were a shot away from tying it up."

"We kept crawling back in there but just weren't able to get over the hump," Lopez added. "They were shooting the ball well, and we needed to run them off the line a bit, but I think we definitely played our best basketball in the second half."

The players who most victimized the Nets in that second half were Harden and Carlos Delfino, who Brooklyn was able to keep in check in the first half. That pair scored 15 and 13 of their team-high 22 respectively in the final 24 minutes, and Carlesimo praised Houston's balanced scoring attack - one that saw five players reach double figures and three more score nine - for pushing them to a big advantage despite a trade-depleted bench and inconsistent first halves from their high scorers.

"Their offense is just beautifully conceived, and they have a one, two, and three who can all bring it up, run pick and rolls, and shoot the ball from deep," Carlesimo said. "They can all put a lot of pressure on you defensively. We defended them much better than we did in Houston and they still got 106 points."

The loss snaps a four-game winning streak for Brooklyn, who also lost an opportunity to tie the Knicks for first place in the Atlantic Division thanks to New York's loss in Toronto earlier Friday. The Nets return to the court Sunday to take on the Memphis Grizzlies, and going forward, Lopez for one hopes the team can carry the intensity they showed in the second half deeper into the weekend.

"If you take one thing out of tonight, (our second half fight) is definitely what you want to take," Lopez said. "We just want to continue with that intensity and that effort and bring it on Sunday."

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