Notebook: Rockets 111, Magic 103



Posted Apr 1, 2013 11:40 PM

By Matt Miller, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: With their top two scorers sidelined, the Houston Rockets relied on the strength of their big men and the guile of their point guard to dispatch the Orlando Magic 111-103 on Monday night.

Omer Asik scored a career-high-tying 22 points on 11-for-13 shooting and grabbed 18 rebounds in less than 28 minutes. Jeremy Lin added 19 points and season-high-tying 11 assists, while Greg Smith netted 10 of his 12 points on 5-for-5 shooting in a dominant first quarter for Houston (41-33). The Rockets won for the fifth time in their last seven games while securing its first season-sweep of Orlando since the 2008-09 season.

Moe Harkless netted a career-best 28 points on 10-for-18 shooting to pace the Magic (19-56), who have lost eight consecutive road games and 43 of 50 overall. Five other players scored in double-figures for Orlando, which used a furious fourth-quarter rally to make the final score appear respectable.

The Rockets played without starting shooting guard James Harden (sore right foot), who missed his second straight game, and small forward Chandler Parsons (food poisoning). Their absences, however, did not prevent Houston's high-octane offense from exploding for 90 points on 50.7 percent shooting over the first three periods.

QUOTABLE: "I promise you, if you just said, 'On April 1, you could be 41-33.' last year at training camp, I would have said, 'Let's just skip to April 1.'"

-- Rockets coach Kevin McHale

THE STAT: The Rockets did not squander their possessions and finished the game with 98 field-goal attempts and only nine turnovers. Houston had committed less than 10 turnovers only twice this season entering Monday.

TURNING POINT: Orlando was never in this one until the closing minutes, trailing from start to finish as it struggled to keep Houston's offense from living near the rim in the early going. The Rockets scored 22 of their first 27 points in the paint as they built a 27-9 lead and never looked back.

QUOTABLE II: "The very first possession of the game set the tone. They threw the ball into Greg Smith, and he got an easy jump hook in the middle."

-- Magic coach Jacque Vaughn

HOT: Lin recorded his first double-double since Feb. 12 and knocked down at least half of his shot attempts for the first time in six games. The third-year point guard's play in the third quarter was the key to keeping Orlando at bay, as Lin scored 10 points to go with four assists.

NOT: Tobias Harris had his way with the Rockets the first time these clubs met this season in Orlando, finishing with a then-career-high 27 points on 11-for-15 shooting and 10 rebounds. The second time around, Houston's defense suffocated Harris and never allowed him to establish a rhythm. Including Monday's 6-for-17 effort, Harris has shot 31.4 percent (11-for-35) overall in his last two games.

QUOTABLE III: "We punished them down low. I was wearing [Harris] out so he wouldn't be able to ... use most of his abilities on the outside, [like] being quicker than me and trying to out-think me, because he was so tired."

-- Greg Smith on his matchup with the leaner Harris

GOOD MOVE: The Rockets utilized their size advantage in the post and fed Asik and Smith repeatedly as they began the game on a 27-9 run. Houston continued its assault on Orlando's interior defense for the remainder opening period, during which the Rockets poured in 22 points in the paint while shooting a scorching 15-for-26 (58.0 percent) from the field.

BAD MOVE: The Magic did not challenge the weak link in Houston's offense, James Anderson, nearly enough. With Anderson struggling to convert on the offensive end, Orlando could have at least dared someone other than Asik, Lin or Smith to carry the load offensively for the Rockets.

NOTABLE: The Rockets have labeled both Harden and Parsons as day-to-day. ... McHale, a former Big Ten standout at the University of Minnesota, did not provide a serious reply when asked about Parsons' illness, opting to poke fun at the former University of Florida athlete. "The Gators got whooped by a Big Ten team, and his belly hurt," McHale said. ... The Magic played without starting point guard Jameer Nelson, who sat out for the second game in a row with a sprained right ankle. He, too, is listed as day-to-day. ... Houston allowed an opponent-season-low 14 points in the first quarter. ... The Rockets will finish the season 21-9 overall and 12-3 at home against Eastern Conference competition. ... Houston improved to 16-0 when it leads by at least 10 points at the start of the fourth quarter. ... Orlando has not defeated a winning team since it beat the Pacers on Jan. 16 in Indiana. ... The Magic fell to 2-36 this season when they hand out fewer assists than their opponent. ... Three Orlando players (Harris, Beno Udrih and Nikola Vucevic) recorded double-doubles in the losing effort.

UP NEXT: For the Magic, Wednesday @ San Antonio, Friday @ Chicago, Sunday @ Cleveland. For the Rockets, Wednesday @ Sacramento, Friday @ Portland, Saturday @ Denver.