HOUSTON -- Fast typically defeats slow in most every race to the finish, and the Houston Rockets confirmed that axiom with their 119-106 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night at the Toyota Center.
With the Rockets (24-22) and Nets (26-18) stationed on opposite ends of the NBA's pace spectrum, Houston established control with its frenetic 34-point second quarter. The Rockets ran effectively throughout and enticed the methodical Nets to accelerate the tempo even though a hasty pace played right into the Rockets' hands.
But the Rockets weren't all fast breaks and 3-point shots. They dominated the glass against the bigger Nets, outrebounding Brooklyn 50-31 to extend their series win streak to 12 consecutive games.
Center Omer Asik was at the heart of the Rockets' exceptional rebounding and overwhelming advantage in the paint, pairing 20 points with 16 rebounds to take his matchup with Nets center (and All-Star Game snub) Brook Lopez. As for the Rockets, their lone All-Star representative, guard James Harden, played a key role.
After the Nets, who trailed by as many as 20 points before rallying to close the third quarter, clawed to 108-98 on a Deron Williams post-up, Harden converted a three-point play and high-fived famed attorney Rusty Hardin, who was sitting courtside. Harden added a nifty reverse layup on the ensuing possession before converting another three-point play at the 1:56 mark to boost the Rockets' lead to 118-103.
Harden finished with 29 points and seven assists and zero turnovers after amassing 15 turnovers against the Nuggets and Hornets earlier this week. Backcourt mate Jeremy Lin added 14 points and nine assists and forward Chandler Parsons tallied 16 points and a career-high 11 assists. The Rockets finished with 31 assists on 43 field goals.
Williams scored 20 of his 27 points in the first quarter and added 11 assists before drawing an ejection with 1:07 remaining in the game. Lopez scored 21 points, making 9 of 10 free throws, while adding seven rebounds and five blocked shots.
NOTES: The Rockets have captured 11 consecutive series meetings with the Nets, a streak that dates to a 96-71 road victory on Dec. 27, 2006. The Nets have dropped five consecutive games in the Toyota Center. ... While an argument could be made that Nets center Brook Lopez was an All-Star Game snub, there is no debating his potency as a post scorer. Rockets center Omer Asik, an exceptional help and individual defender, faces a stiff challenge against Lopez. "This is a huge game for Omer," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "They run a lot of stuff for him in the post. You're going to see him in the post doing a lot of one-on-one." ... Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo repeatedly stressed the need for Brooklyn to control the pace against Houston. "I don't like playing against them; I love watching them play," Carlesimo said. "They're a real entertaining team to watch. I think their concepts are great for their personnel."