Rockets 111, Magic 103
HOUSTON -- Despite the absence of their two leading scorers, the Houston Rockets earned a 111-103 win over the Orlando Magic on Monday night at Toyota Center.
It mattered little that guard James Harden (sore right foot) and forward Chandler Parsons (food poisoning) were unavailable against the Magic, whose active roster lacked the starting backcourt of Jameer Nelson (sprained right ankle) and Arron Afflalo (strained right hamstring).
Houston (41-33) rode the surprising productivity of big men Omer Asik and Greg Smith to a 25-point lead and then held on late.
Asik and Smith, starting in tandem for just the second time this season, connected on 10 of 11 shots in the first quarter, setting a dominant interior tone that the Rockets parlayed into 60 points in the paint. Asik recorded his 31st double-double, posting 22 points and 18 rebounds, while Smith overcame foul trouble and finished with 12 points.
Even without Harden and Parsons, who combine to score 41.1 points per game, the Rockets had few problems offensively. It helped that they committed only nine turnovers and that point guard Jeremy Lin was nearly flawless at the controls, producing 19 points and 11 assists. The double-double was the eighth on the season for Lin.
Francisco Garcia started for Parsons and scored 14 points on 5-for-6 shooting.
Magic rookie forward Maurice Harkless scored a career-high 28 points, but by and large Orlando struggled to replace the production lost with Nelson and Afflalo sidelined. Beno Udrih had 17 points and 10 assists in his second consecutive start for Nelson, but the rest of the backcourt rotation contributed just eight points while missing 13 of 16 shots.
With the win, the Rockets clinched their seventh consecutive non-losing season. Orlando (19-56) dropped its eighth consecutive road game despite cutting the deficit to five points late in the fourth quarter.
NOTES: Udrih, acquired by the Magic from the Milwaukee Bucks on Feb. 21, scored a season-high 20 points substituting for Nelson against the Atlanta Hawks on March 30. "(With) shot selection, we want them to be aggressive; they initiate our offense," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said of Nelson and Udrih. "I've been playing both at the same time and so their ability to shoot the ball, to shoot the 3 (is obvious). I think the only thing that is different in some of the diagrams I draw is I've got to draw them to Beno's left hand. We're able to run and get into all of our sets (with Udrih) without a doubt." ... With Harden and Parsons out, Rockets coach Kevin McHale was forced to adjust his rotation. McHale has longed to set his rotation in advance of the postseason, but trade-deadline acquisitions and injuries have delayed that goal. "I just wish I was done evaluating with nine games to go," McHale said. "That would be a lot easier."