NBA regular season

Rockets push winning streak to 7 with win over Nets

Rockets push winning streak to 7 with win over Nets

BIRTHDAY BOY. Rockets guard Josh Christopher celebrates after scoring in the fourth quarter against the Nets.

Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

The young Rockets pull off an upset over a Nets crew that rested Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge

Garrison Mathews scored 12 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, and Josh Christopher enjoyed a memorable 20th birthday, as the Houston Rockets extended their winning streak to seven games with a 114-104 victory over the visiting Brooklyn Nets Wednesday night, December 8 (Thursday, December 9, Manila time).

Mathews quieted the Nets’ final surge with a three-pointer plus a steal and transition dunk that pushed the Rockets to a 107-97 lead with 3:28 remaining. Brooklyn had sliced a 20-point deficit to 95-91 with an 18-5 run bolstered by technical fouls on Eric Gordon and Jae’Sean Tate.

Gordon was ejected with 6:13 left having scored a team-high 21 points. Christopher added 18 points on 7-of-7 shooting with four three-pointers. Christian Wood had 12 points and 15 rebounds.

The Nets rested Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge in the second half of a back-to-back. James Harden led Brooklyn with 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists, while rookie Cam Thomas scored 18 points off the bench. Paul Millsap chipped in 10 points and 6 rebounds.

Tate provided the Rockets their first basket of the third quarter with a reverse layup at the 9:08 mark, but Houston continued to struggle offensively until its defense provided the fuel. 

Wood blocked a James Johnson drive that resulted in a driving layup by DJ Augustin on the opposite end. The Rockets ended the quarter with flair, as Christopher followed his steal with an assist to KJ Martin, whose ferocious left-handed dunk gave Houston a 90-73 lead entering the fourth.

It was Gordon who provided the Rockets their working lead by scoring 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting before taking his first break in the first quarter. Houston bullied the Nets in the paint with 14 points and Brooklyn didn’t help its cause by shooting 9-for-25 in the quarter.

Christopher came alive in the second quarter, not only hounding Harden defensively but drilling a trio of three-pointers to spark the Rockets offensively. Christopher forced a Harden turnover that yielded Mathews’ transition layup for a 36-25 lead at the 10:26 mark. 

When Christopher sank a triplefollowing a pair of Mathews free throws courtesy of a flagrant foul on Nets center Nic Claxton, Houston pushed to a 49-29 lead. But Brooklyn responded to with a 12-0 run.

Harden hit four free throws and assisted on a Patty Mills three as Brooklyn cut the deficit to eight before the Rockets stabilized themselves, with a late Wood triple yielding a 67-52 halftime lead. –