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Harden struggles, Thornton shines in Rockets loss to Nets

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Marcus Thornton scored a season-high 32 points while James Harden struggled and attempted a season-low nine shots in a 105 - 110 loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Trevor Ariza left the game with a lower back injury.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets quest for a .500 record continues as the Houston Rockets fall to 10-12 after struggling through a 110-105 loss to the Brooklyn Nets. The loss is the second time the Nets have capitalized on the Rockets' ailments, which constitutes one third of their total wins on the year (6).

Marcus Thornton scored a season-high 32 points while going 5-8 from deep. Thornton put forward a +14 plus/minus off the bench on a night James Harden was a -15. Thornton's season high, coupled with 22 points from Corey Brewer, gave the Rockets a chance to steal the game late.

The Rockets went with a "micro" lineup featuring Clint Capela, Corey Brewer, Marcus Thornton, Ty Lawson and Jason Terry in the fourth quarter. It did heroic work to winnow what was once an 18-point lead to low single digits. Houston struggled in the first half conceding 57 first half points to a Nets team that averages 97.5 points per game on the season.

Harden struggled all night. The beard contributed to the Rockets' season-high 23 turnovers with 7 giveaways, many of which came in transition creating empty possessions. Harden was in danger of finishing with more turnovers than points but scraped together 10 points on the night while shooting 2-9 from the field. This was a season-low field goal attempts from Harden. His previous low was 10 shots in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

The Rockets put a press on the Nets late in the fourth with a small lineup of Dwight Howard, James Harden, Marcus Thornton, Patrick Beverley and Jason Terry. Brook Lopez has never looked so large and finished the night with 24 points.

The "micro" lineup was forced on the Rockets after Trevor Ariza took a fall in the first quarter and did not return to the game. Ariza logged only four minutes and was ruled out with a "lower back bruise." Ariza's absence allowed Joe Johnson to take over the Nets offense in the fourth quarter, which was just enough to keep the Rockets from overcoming their first half struggles.

Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas were a non-factor despite the injury to Ariza and the size disadvantage. Jones logged 16 minutes, but wasn't able to provide any defensive physicality. Motiejunas looked like a rookie version of himself, timid and slow, almost paralyzed by the speed of the game around him.

The Houston Rockets play the Washington Wizards tomorrow night in DC. They take the court with a 10-12 record.