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Rockets can’t withstand Nets comeback; fall to Brooklyn 120-108

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NBA: Houston Rockets at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A big Houston Rockets lead on the Brooklyn Nets wasn’t enough to stave off the best team in the East, as they took down Houston 120-108 on Wednesday night.

The Rockets absolutely stunned the Nets to start the game. Houston started the game a blistering 5/5 from deep, 8/9 from the field to get them an early 24-6 lead. It took less than eight minutes for this Rockets team to score 30 points on the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Danuel House Jr. led the way for the Rockets in the first quarter with 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field, 3-of-4 from deep in only nine minutes. Christian Wood had seven points in the period, and Jae’Sean Tate had six.

Despite hopping out to an 18-point lead early, Kyrie Irving was able to take over the Nets’ offense and keep the game close with 12 first quarter points. James Harden was no slouch either, pouring in 14 points to go along with three assists.

Houston scored an unforeseen 42 points in the first quarter to only 29 Nets points. As a team, they shot a scolding-hot 15-of-19 from the field and seven-of-nine from deep.

In the second quarter, the Rockets’ offense regressed towards the mean, but that’s not the worst thing in the world if you went into the period shooting 78.9% from the field.

Houston scored only 26 points in the quarter, but Brooklyn had only 28 of their own, one less than their first quarter contribution.

Kevin Porter Jr. took over in the second, scoring nine points in the period and leading the team with 14 points at the half to go along with four assists. Porter also went to work a few times on a former Houston household name.

Kelly Olynyk stuffed the stat sheet in the half with eight points, three assists, and two rebounds. Wood had 11 half-time points to go with his four rebounds.

Brooklyn didn’t get a ton of contribution from anyone outside their all-stars in the first half, but that didn’t matter. Kyrie led all scorers with 18 points in the half on 7-14 shooting. Harden wasn’t far behind with 17 points, five assists, and five rebounds on 5-7 shooting from the field.

The Rockets maintained excellent shooting at an even 60% from the field on 24-60 shooting, 9-19 from three. They went into the half up 68-57.

This type of third quarter felt inevitable. Thankfully, it wasn’t inevitable in the sense that the Rockets are that bad, but that the Nets are that good.

Houston was able to maintain a strong 82-69 lead nearly seven minutes into the third quarter, but that would be wiped away when Kyrie led Brooklyn on a 12-0 run to get the game within one point, and a 17-5 run to close out the quarter with the Rockets maintaining an 87-86 lead. The Nets, at one point, did capture their first lead of the game, 86-85, but that didn’t last long.

The Rockets scored their game-worst 19 points in the third, going only 1/10 from deep and 6-of-19 from the field. The Nets, on the other hand, went 10-26 from the field and a solid 4-of-10 from the outside.

Also notable that James Harden would leave the third quarter with some right hamstring tightness and would not return to the game. Harden had 17 points, eight rebounds, and six assists in 26 minutes.

As much as it would have been nice to say that the fourth quarter went well and Houston was able to close out the game, that wasn’t the case.

Houston held strong with an 101-95 lead with 7:28 left to go in the match, but that would be the last of the good news for the Rockets. The Nets closed the game on a 25-7 run, and that would be all they wrote.

Despite an incredible first half of shooting, especially in the first quarter, the Rockets finished just 13-of-40 from deep for 32.5%. The Nets, who made only four threes in the first half, went 9-18 from deep in the second, 13-36 for the game. Brooklyn also won the matchup in the paint 58-48, and they went an immaculate 19/19 from the free-throw line.

Kevin Porter Jr., who started the game with John Wall out, led the team with 20 points and six assists on 9/16 from the field. Danuel House Jr. had 18 points and five rebounds for the game on 5/10 shooting. Christian Wood had 14 points and eight rebounds. Newest additions Olynyk and D.J. Augustin had 14 and 11 points, respectively.

Kyrie Irving led all scorers in the game with 31 points and 12 assists on 12-25 shooting. Joe Harris torched the Rockets for 28 points and six rebounds on 10-17 shooting and an incredible 7-12 from deep. Blake Griffin shored up their offense with 11 points, six rebounds, and four assists.

The Rockets will continue up northeast with the Boston Celtics on Friday.