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Rockets jump to early lead, coast past Nets

The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- Center Dwight Howard came to a hasty realization during the summer that several members of his new team, the Houston Rockets, were dangerous threats from behind the 3-point arc. Lately, the rest of the league witnessed the perimeter shooting that Howard first noticed after he signed with Houston.

Continuing their torrid play at home, the Rockets jumped to an early double-digit lead and coasted to a 114-95 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night at Toyota Center, utilizing their perimeter proficiency to overwhelm Brooklyn and extend their home winning streak.

The Rockets (12-5) claimed their sixth consecutive home triumph by dominating the injury-plagued Nets (4-12) via a season-high 19 3-pointers. That total marked the third time in franchise history Houston hit that threshold and represents its second-most 3-pointers in a game.

"These guys can shoot the ball well," Howard said. "We get a lot of shots up in practice, after practice. Once we get that inside-out game flowing the right way, it's going to be hard for teams to beat us."

Brooklyn played without starters Deron Williams (left ankle) and Kevin Garnett (rest) while key reserves Jason Terry (left knee) and Andrei Kirilenko (back spasms) were also out.

The Nets have dropped seven of eight games and, facing a tough back-to-back tilt with the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night, Brooklyn coach Jason Kidd pulled four starters at intermission -- forwards Paul Pierce and Andre Blatche, and the backcourt tandem of Joe Johnson and Shaun Livingston. That quartet shot a combined 3-for-23 in the first half.

"Fatigue," Kidd said, identifying the Nets' primary problem. "We asked guys to play a lot of minutes. We've been short-handed in playing five games in seven (days). Starting the game tonight, we didn't shoot the ball extremely well nor did we close out to the 3, and that effort put us behind the eight ball."

Nets center Brook Lopez paced the starters with 16 points. Forward Mirza Teletovic had 18 points and 13 rebounds off the bench for Brooklyn, which trailed 92-62 entering the fourth period.

Houston set a franchise record for consecutive wins over a single opponent, stretching its streak against the Nets to 14 games. Rockets forward Chandler Parsons scored 21 points on 7-for-7 shooting, including 6-of-6 from behind the arc, and was the last starter to retreat to the bench for good with 2:10 left in the third quarter. No starter played more than his 26 minutes.

Seeking to continue their streak of consecutive home games without having surrendered the lead to five, the Rockets scored the first six points with forward Terrence Jones solely responsible for their 6-0 lead. When the Nets threatened, Houston responded with a 13-0 run.

The Rockets showcased their typical offensive aggression, attacking both the rim and the Nets in transition. Parsons banged home a 3 early in the shot clock before later scoring in transition. When Howard converted a hard-earned tip-in at the 2:54 mark of the first, the lead hit 25-8.

The barrage continued throughout. During the course of their last five home games in which they have not trailed, the Rockets shot 68-for-132 (51.5 percent) from behind the 3-point line.

"I think it's just everyone getting comfortable," Parsons said. "Everyone getting more familiar with each other. It is all about staying confident and continuing to put in the work in the gym. We are all professionals. We are all going to keep shooting and keep working on it."

The Nets were a picture of offensive inefficiency, firing off 16 consecutive jump shots before finally getting an attempt in the restricted area. Blatche missed that layup with 4:01 remaining in the first period, and by the close of that quarter Brooklyn trailed 33-17 on 7-for-23 shooting.

Punctuated by Parsons' 5-for-5 half, Houston led 66-40 at the break.

"We let them do what they do best," Lopez said. "The last three teams have great 3-point shooting teams, and we gave them easy looks from that distance."

NOTES: Nets C Brook Lopez returned to the starting lineup after missing seven games with a sprained left ankle. However, with Brooklyn set to face Memphis on Saturday night, Nets coach Jason Kidd opted to give F Kevin Garnett the night off. The Nets were also missing G Deron Williams (left ankle), F Andrei Kirilenko (back spasms) and G Jason Terry (left knee). ... Kidd was curt in addressing the $50,000 fine the NBA assessed for his purposely spilling soda on the court to manipulate a break in the action in the latter stages against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night. "The league fined me for something I probably shouldn't have done, so we move on," Kidd said. ... Rockets G Jeremy Lin will be sidelined two weeks with a right knee sprain and contusion suffered Wednesday night when he collided with Atlanta F Paul Millsap.
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