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Howard's 35 lead Rockets past Pistons

The SportsXchange

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Andre Drummond reminds a lot of people of a young Dwight Howard. On Saturday night, Howard reminded Drummond and everyone else who is the premier center in the NBA.

Howard overwhelmed Detroit's second-year center, pouring in a season-high 35 points and grabbing 19 rebounds as the shorthanded Houston Rockets bounced back from their worst loss of the season with a 114-97 thumping of the Pistons at The Palace.

Howard went right at Drummond, who ranks among the top 10 in blocked shots, and converted 13 of 18 field-goal attempts.

"I love Andre, the way he's been playing this year," said Howard, who also made five assists. "He's 20 years old and he doesn't back down from any challenge, and I love that about him. He's going to continue to get better. I just tried to go at him tonight. He's a great shot blocker, so I just tried to move him and throw him off with some pump fakes. After you get him a couple of times, a guy who likes to jump, it's hard for them to contest shots."

Small forward Chandler Parsons scored 15 of his 20 points during the second half for Houston (18-10), which has won six straight over the Pistons (13-16). The Rockets were coming off a 33-point loss to Indiana on Friday.

"We wanted to put that as far behind as possible," Parsons said. "That's the beauty of the NBA; you get a chance to regroup really quick."

The Rockets will have to regroup from some injuries in the near future.

Leading scorer, shooting guard James Harden, was a late scratch because of a left ankle sprain. Harden, who had 37 points and 12 assists in his Rockets debut at Detroit last season, missed four games earlier this season with a foot injury.

Rockets starting point guard Patrick Beverley, who scored 10 points, fractured his right hand during the second quarter and is out indefinitely. Reserve forward Greg Smith also went down early, aggravating a knee injury.

"I said to the guys, 'It doesn't matter how many guys we've got, it doesn't matter who's playing or who's not playing, we've just got to play together and play with some toughness,'" Houston coach Kevin McHale said. "Toughness and togetherness overcomes a lot of stuff."

Guard Francisco Garcia, who started in place of Harden, chipped in 16 points.

The Rockets scored 10 unanswered points late in the first quarter to take the lead and never relinquished it.

Forward Josh Smith scored 19 points to lead the Pistons, who have lost five of their last six home games, and forward Kyle Singler added 12.

Point guard Brandon Jennings was ejected with 2:10 remaining for arguing with the officials.

"We are still trying to get better, night in and night out," said Pistons coach Mo Cheeks, whose team blew a 20-point lead to Charlotte on Friday. "As I said to the players, there will be some nights where we have good nights and there will be some nights where we have bad nights. Last night and tonight (were) not our best, for sure."

Howard racked up 23 points and 12 rebounds by halftime as the Rockets took a 61-53 lead. Houston led by as much as 18 in the second quarter with the aid of four 3-pointers in the first 4:43 of the quarter.

"You have to try to take away something, and tonight we didn't do it," Josh Smith said. "They were able to knock down some 3-pointers and when (Howard) had the ball in the post, he was effective."

Behind Parsons, the Rockets nearly doubled their lead during the third quarter. He scored 11 points, including a runner just before the buzzer to make it 86-71. The Pistons couldn't cut the deficit under double digits in the fourth.

NOTES: Pistons G Chauncey Billups was inactive. He has not been playing both ends of back-to-backs because of knee tendinitis. ... Houston G Jeremy Lin missed his fourth straight game with back spasms. Disgruntled Rockets C Omer Asik, who has a right thigh contusion, did not make the trip. ... The Rockets committed more turnovers than their opponent in 18 of their first 27 games, yet had a 13-5 record in those games. ... The Pistons are below .500 at home and one game over .500 on the road. "I don't have an answer to it," coach Mo Cheeks said. ... Detroit is shooting a league-worst 67.1 percent at the foul line, mainly due to C Andre Drummond's 37.6 percent shooting. Opponents are shooting a league-high 80 percent against them at the line.
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