Regressed: Jalen Brunson sinks Rockets in finale of miserable road trip

The Rockets ended a brutal road trip with Wednesday’s 109-94 loss (box score) to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Houston (19-21) went 1-5 on the trip and is multiple games below .500 for the first time since early November. New York improved to 24-17.

After missing two games with a calf injury, Jalen Brunson returned to New York’s lineup and led the way with 30 points and 7 assists, shooting 11-of-21 overall (52.4%) and 4-of-9 on 3-pointers (44.4%).

As it heads home, Houston finds itself outside of the top 10 in the Western Conference standings (and with that, a berth in the play-in tournament for the 2024 playoffs) for the first time in weeks.

After allowing nearly 135 points per game in their previous two losses, Houston’s defensive effort was much improved against the Knicks. However, it couldn’t withstand a regression on offense.

As a team, Houston shot 8-of-30 on 3-pointers (26.7%), and five of those makes were by Fred VanVleet (24 points, 12 assists). Outside of VanVleet, the Rockets shot 3-of-18 from distance (16.7%).

Backcourt mate Jalen Green had 15 points and 7 rebounds, but he finished with a team-high five turnovers and went 0-for-5 on 3-pointers. Alperen Sengun tallied 18 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks, but some of those statistics came after the game had long been decided. By and large, Sengun struggled to make his usual impact versus Knicks big man Isaiah Hartenstein.

Second-year forward Tari Eason remained sidelined by a lower left leg injury, which traces back to a preseason stress reaction.

Here’s our look at Wednesday’s highlights and postgame interviews from New York, along with reaction by media members and fans. With the road trip complete, the Rockets will finally return to Houston for a three-game homestand starting Saturday versus the Utah Jazz (22-20). The tip is 7 p.m. Central from Toyota Center.

The Rockets are 15-6 at home but only 4-14 on the road this season.

Jan. 17 Rockets-Knicks reaction

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Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire