Notebook: Rockets 96, Pistons 82

Posted Nov 10, 2012 11:56 PM

By Matt Miller, For

THE FACTS: Less than 24 hours after James Harden bolted from the visiting locker room at FedExForum in Memphis before the media was allowed to enter, the fourth-year guard pumped his fist in celebration while several thousand of the Rockets faithful showered him with cheers. This after breaking out of a three-game slump that coincided with Houston's three-game losing streak.

Success has a way of changing an athlete's disposition.

Harden's third-quarter surge paved the way for Houston in its 96-82 victory over the winless Detroit Pistons on Saturday at Toyota Center, as the third-year guard scored 10 of his game-high 20 points in the period to turn a competitive contest into a rout. Omer Asik matched his career high with 14 points and pulled down eight rebounds for the Rockets (3-3), who earned their first home win of the season and gave Kelvin Sampson a victory in his NBA coaching debut. Sampson will be in charge of the team while Kevin McHale is on a leave of absence to attend to a family matter.

Greg Monroe recorded a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Brandon Knight netted 16 points and handed out seven assists for Detroit (0-7), which is off to its worst start since the 1979-80 season.

QUOTABLE: "We never let down defensively. We put a great emphasis tonight on ... conversion from defense to offense and scoring in transition. ... Our guys are starting to take pride in our defense now."

-- Kelvin Sampson

THE STAT: For the first time this season, the Rockets finished with fewer than 18 turnovers and allowed less than 17 points off giveaways. Although Houston's offensive struggles continued, it finally made progress toward avoiding the self-inflicted damage that haunted it during its three-game skid.

TURNING POINT: The pesky Pistons were putting up a good fight at the end of a six-game road trip, trailing by only four points with five minutes remaining in the third quarter. But Jeremy Lin's ball-handling and passing skills, along with a pair of Harden buckets sandwiched around a Chandler Parsons trey, helped Houston net nine consecutive points to stretch its lead to 69-56 less than 90 seconds later. That stretch proved to be the knockout blow for Detroit, which never trimmed its deficit below double digits for the remainder of the game.

QUOTABLE II: "It felt good to finally see a couple [shots] go in. ... Finally, they went in, and you [breathe] a sigh of relief."

-- James Harden

HOT: The Rockets' Marcus Morris spearheaded a huge second-quarter run for the Rockets, pouring in 10 points on five consecutive makes. The second-year forward finished with 12 points on 6-for-7 shooting to go with career highs of eight rebounds and two steals.

NOT: The Pistons shot 39 percent in the first half, but it could have been much worse if Tayshaun Prince had not knocked down several jump shots. Aside from Prince, Detroit made only 11 of 35 shot attempts (31.4 percent) before halftime. With Prince unable to regain his touch after the break, the Pistons' offense collapsed as Detroit generated only 16 points in the third period.

BAD MOVE: Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said before the game that the conclusion of this six-game trek would test his team's character. The Pistons deserved an 'A 'in the first half, battling through some lackluster offensive performances to remain within striking distance. They earned an 'F' after halftime, however, as they committed nine turnovers, routinely failed to get back on defense and allowed a slumping Rockets squad to get to the line for 16 free-throw attempts. After Houston put a 9-0 run together to build a 13-point lead, Detroit rolled over -- the opposite of what Frank hoped to see.

QUOTABLE III: "I was extremely disappointed. Your resolve is tested every day regardless of what your record is. ... We could've built on last night, and we didn't. ... We didn't even give ourselves a chance during that [third-quarter] run. I don't make excuses because I know we're capable of doing more."

-- Lawrence Frank

GOOD MOVE: Frank switched to a zone defense after Houston built a 47-32 lead, leading to poor shot selection and turnovers for the Rockets that sparked a 13-2 Detroit run.

NOTABLE: The Pistons have dropped five consecutive meetings with the Rockets overall and seven straight in Houston. ... The Rockets won for a franchise-record 32nd consecutive game when limiting their opponent to less than 90 points. ... The Rockets overcame 40.2 percent shooting from the field with a season-high 24 fast-break points. ... Monroe has recorded a double-double in each of his last four games.

UP NEXT: For the Pistons, Monday vs. Oklahoma City, Wednesday @ Philadelphia, Friday vs. Orlando. For the Rockets, Monday vs. Miami, Wednesday vs. New Orleans, Friday @ Portland.