NEW YORK -- The Houston Rockets might have only dressed 10 players to face the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night, but that was more than enough -- as long as James Harden was one of the 10.
After a slow start, Harden had 22 points to lead the Rockets to a 106-96 victory over the Nets at the Barclays Center.
"We had a lot of good ball movement," said Harden, who scored 15 of his 22 in the second half. "We made a lot of big shots. Our defense was also the key. Everyone stepped up. It was a very good road win."
The Rockets (31-26) won for the 13th straight time against the Nets. Brooklyn (33-23) saw its four-game win streak snapped.
Brooklyn had a chance to take first place in the Atlantic Division with a win, considering the New York Knicks had already lost to the Toronto Raptors. But that opportunity was eliminated by Houston's solid play.
Carlos Delfino scored 22 points and the Rockets got a solid contribution from their bench, which was depleted after Houston made a six-player trade before Thursday's deadline.
"It's up to us to find Carlos, because he can make shots," Houston coach Kevin McHale said. "Our ball movement was pretty good in the second half. Carlos is a big shot taker and a great shot maker."
"We decided to go small and I think that helped us," said Delfino, who was announced as the team's starting power forward Friday night. "I don't lift weights and I can't push anyone around. I just shoot the ball. I had to find my space to get shots."
The acquired players did not arrive in Brooklyn in time for the game. The Rockets' bench combined to add 33 points. Houston got 10 points each from Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik and Greg Smith.
Brook Lopez paced all scorers with 27 points. C.J. Watson had 17 points, starting for the injured Joe Johnson, and Deron Williams had 15 points and 13 assists. Mirza Teletovic had 12 points off the bench for Brooklyn.
The Nets had cut a 15-point lead down to 97-94 with 2:18 left, but the Rockets took over, nailing clutch shot after clutch shot.
Delfino nailed a long 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down with 1:54 left to push the lead to 100-94 and he added another shot just inside the circle with 1:14 left to make it 102-96. Harden then sealed the deal with a 3-pointer with 39 seconds left.
"We made a lot of shots down the stretch," Harden said. "We made the easy pass and got a lot of good looks."
Houston led 61-53 at the half, continuing their fine perimeter shooting. The Rockets made 25 of 43 shots at the half, good for 58 percent.
The Nets scored the first four points of the third quarter, when Lopez scored on an alley-oop dunk off a pass from Williams and then hit a 17-footer off glass, slicing the lead to 61-57.
Williams nailed a step-back 3-pointer that brought Brooklyn to within 64-62 with 8:47 left in the third, then added two free throws to tie the game 64-64 with 7:47 remaining, capping a 7-0 run.
But Harden made two consecutive 3-pointers at the end of the third quarter, as the Rockets pushed the lead back to 83-75, then hit a free throw to make it 84-75 as the fourth quarter began. Harden scored the Rockets' final seven points in the period.
"I was struggling, but those shots gave me a little bit of confidence," Harden said.
James Anderson and Patrick Beverley hit consecutive 3-pointers for the Rockets, capping a 13-0 run for the Rockets and giving Houston a 90-75 lead with 10:23 left in the quarter.
But the Nets rallied, only to come up short.
"We kept climbing back in, but we were unable to get over the hump," Lopez said. "They made a lot of shots. We knew Harden was a great player and we had to honor him and play him honest. We did a good job for most of the game running him off."
"We did a much better job defending in the second half," said Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo. "But their offense is beautifully conceived and can shoot the ball from deep. We defended them pretty well and they still got 106 points."
McHale didn't know what to make of the game.
"It was a weird game," McHale said. "We fell in and out of our offensive rhythm all night. The game had a lot of ebb and flow. We were never really crisp, but we got good spacing to get good shots."
NOTES: Johnson was out for the Nets with a sore left heel. It was reported to be a plantar fasciitis, but the team would not confirm the severity of the injury, just that he's day-to-day. It's not known how long Johnson, the team's second leading scorer at 17.0 points per game, will be out of action. Watson started in Johnson's absence. ... The Rockets, who completed a six-player trade with the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday, were without the players they acquired, namely Francisco Garcia and Thomas Robinson, who reported to the team, but did not dress. ... Carlesimo said that he was glad that the trading deadline came and went without any change to his roster. "I like this team," Carlesimo said. "The deadline wasn't a concern for me. It might have been for the players that were involved in the rumors." ... Nets general manager Billy King was also pleased he didn't pull the trigger on rumored trades for Josh Smith and Paul Pierce. "It was fun to hear and read the rumors that we were involved with. But once 3 o'clock came, I was out the door and went to scout a college game." ... There were hundreds of fans at the Barclays Center wearing Rockets No. 17 jerseys in honor of Jeremy Lin, who received a host of cheers playing in his first game in Brooklyn. Lin was a sensation last year with the Knicks. Lin finished with nine points and six assists.