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Rockets too much for Magic despite missing James Harden

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Gerald Green and Chris Paul led the charge against Orlando.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t always beautiful and exciting, but the Houston Rockets did exactly what we would expect from them in blowing out an obviously inferior Orlando Magic squad 116-98.

The Rockets were led by hometown Houstonian Gerald Green, who was playing in just his fourth game off the couch for the Rockets. Green finished with 27 points and 6 rebounds, and he shot 7-10 from beyond the arc. It seems like Mike D’Antoni’s bombs-away attitude is a good fit for the streaky shooter, as least as long as he stays hot.

The Rockets also got 8 points, 7 rebounds, 13 assists, and 2 steals from Chris Paul, who effectively ran the offense in James Harden’s stead. The Rockets shot 47 percent from the field, 15-34 from three and assisted on 25 of 42 field goals, so they didn’t really miss a beat against the Magic, though the true test comes tomorrow night against the much tougher opponent.

The Rockets also relied heavily on their defense in this one. After starting out a little disjointed, they held the Magic to just 37 percent shooting and 6-31 from beyond the arc. Some of that was Orlando awfulness. Some of that was focused Rockets defense. They’re going to have to crank up the intensity to match up with the Golden State Warriors tomorrow, however.

The Rockets did their best to keep high energy in the game, despite a dead arena and a less-than-stellar opponent and utilized a balanced scoring attack to keep everyone involved.

In addition to Green and Paul, the Rockets also got 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks from Clint Capela and 17 points and 7 rebounds from Ryan Anderson, who finally snapped out of a slump by hitting 6 of 12 from the floor. They also got 17 from Eric Gordon, 12 from Trevor Ariza, and 10 from Nene to round out six Houston players in double figures.

The Rockets did lose Nene in the fourth quarter due to a bruised knee. No word yet on how serious the injury is, but with the Rockets already struggling with injuries, the hope is that it’s not serious.

The Magic were never really in this one, going down double-digits early and never really recovering or mounting a comeback, but they were led by 16 points from Aaron Gordon. He shot just 7-23 from the field though, and it was a quiet 16. They also got 14 from Elfrid Payton, 14 from Mario Hezonja, 11 Arron Afflalo, and 10 from Evan Fournier.

The Rockets have won their second game in a row after a five-game losing streak, and they now move to 27-9 on the season. They return home to the Toyota Center tomorrow for a nationally televised contest against the Warriors. Golden State also plays tonight, as they take on the Dallas Mavericks in Texas, and there will be just one or two games between the teams at the top of the Western Conference, depending on the results of tonight’s game.

Good win for the Rockets on what easily could have been a let down game. Onward to tomorrow night.