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Rockets fall behind early, lose to Nets as Joe Johnson breaks out

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It was a tough night for the Rockets as the Nets took it to the short-handed team and got a victory at the Barclays Center.

Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

With Terrence Jones sick with the flu, Dwight Howard nursing an ankle injury, and Patrick Beverley still on the mend after tearing his meniscus, the Rockets were in for an uphill battle against the Nets on Tuesday night. The Nets were on a 13 game winning streak, and kept that streak alive with a thoroughly convincing 105-96 win.

Omer Asik was excellent in Dwight Howard's stead, picking up a career high 23 rebounds and locking down the paint when he was on the floor, but the rest of the roster struggled to fill the void left by the Rockets' starting front court, and the Nets were able to take advantage down low. Donatas Motiejunas was particularly ineffective, playing just 8 minutes while dealing with foul trouble and failing to get on the list of scorers.

As a result, Andray Blatche, Miles Plumlee, and the rest of the uninspiring Nets' front court had a field day, scoring with ease down low against any player not named Asik and taking the Rockets to school in the paint. James Harden, Chandler Parsons, and Jeremy Lin all pitched in strong performances, but it was not enough as the Nets held on for the victory.

The Rockets head to Toronto tomorrow night, and with playoff positioning on the line, hopefully can put together a strong performance. With tonight's loss, they now lead by just 2 games over the Blazers, with Portland having a chance to pull within a game and a half with a win tonight.