Mike Breen yelled out his famous “bang” catchphrase as Alec Burks drilled a three-pointer as the shot clock expired, drilling a dagger into the heart of the Houston Rockets upset bid.
On Saturday afternoon, the Rocket had their first taste of a Madison Square Garden crowd that has been buzzing with a different type of energy since making the playoffs last season. In their first taste of MSG, fellow rookies Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun each put forth a winning effort despite coming up short. Green scored 16 points on 7-11 shooting while Sengun wowed Mike Breen over and over as he scored 10 points and pulled down 6 rebounds while showing off a veteran level of composure in the final quarter.
The Knicks are a gritty team and if Houston was going to beat them, they’d have to grind their way to the final buzzer; when New York called a timeout with 4:29 left in the opening quarter they were losing 9-8 in a low scoring affair and the grind was underway.
While the scoring would eventually pick up, each time was able to stay within striking distance of one another. The largest lead that the Knicks was ever able to get out to was 10 while Houston was up by as many as 9. When the opening quarter came to an end, NYK led 21-13 which is where they’d eventually jump out their largest lead of the night.
But the Rockets fought back and while they never rattled off a big run in the second quarter, they were able to head into the locker room at the half with a 47-47 tie reading across each scoreboard in the arena.
The third quarter was more of the same as the first two - a rock fight.
Houston held leads of 53-49 and 73-69 at one point but only led by one point as the final quarter approached. And once that fourth frame arrived, so did Alec Burks.
The Rockets had a shot at securing the victory but an offensive barrage from Burks in a game where up to that point had been a defensive battle was just too much to overcome. He scored 17 of his 20 points in the final quarter and shot 6-7 from beyond the arc to give the Knicks a large enough cushion to secure the win.
Christian Wood was the highest scorer for Houston as he finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds in the loss while Jae-Sean Tate, Eric Gordon, Kenyon Martin Jr each joined Wood, Green, and Sengun as double-digit scorers.
Next, Houston will continue their stay on the east coast by traveling to Boston to battle the Celtics on Monday, Nov. 22 at 6:30 C.T.