The Houston Rockets dominated throughout and blew out the Nets 113-99 on Monday night at Barclays Center. This is the Nets’ sixth straight loss, dropping them to 16-22.
The Nets are now 1-6 in January, which is interesting considering January is when the Nets turned it on the past two seasons.
The game started out pretty wide open, and Houston led 17-14 when with 7:53 left when it took a nasty, unexpected turn.
Nets power forward Kevin Garnett and Rockets center Dwight Howard were battling under the hoop, and they each hit each other, and it only escalated from there. Garnett threw the ball of Howard’s back, Howard hit him back, then Garnett head-butted Howard. After this, the players were separated and it would be a while before things would calm down, as they were still shouting at each other.
Garnett received two technicals, and a regular foul for the initial contact, and was ejected. Howard received one technical, as the referees found did he did not throw a full punch.
Howard said of how the fight developed, “I don’t know. It doesn’t matter, we won the game. That’s all that matters.”
On getting head-butted by KG, Howard said, “I don’t know, maybe you should take MMA to see how it feels.
Mason Plumlee said on the topic of if he has ever seen KG this angry before, “Kevin’s a passionate player. He’s always on edge, and that’s what has made him great. I thought the whole thing was something out of nothing. After that, it would be good to come out and get a win. Kevin did a lot for us, and he got us going. Those are the kind of games you want to win as a team, and we didn’t do that.”
Rockets Head Coach Kevin McHale said of the fight, “It looked like they got into a little bit of a scrum, and I really didn’t think too much of it. I was watching, but I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. Evidently, they threw out Kevin. I didn’t see any punches thrown by either guy, so I really don’t know.”
McHale said of whether it was a big deal, “In the good old days, that was a play on – now they throw people out. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.”
This is the second time in three years that KG has been involved in a fight the night of the College Football National Championship Game. Two years ago, while a member of the Celtics, he fought the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony at Madison Square Garden. This came to be known as the”Honey Nut Cheerios fight” due to an alleged vulgar comment by KG about Anthony’s wife. Anthony then went to the Boston bus after the game to confront Garnett.
After this happened, the Rockets cruised to a 37-28 lead at the end of the first, and the quarter ended on a James Harden three-point play. This was fitting since Harden had 15 in the first.
In the second quarter, the Nets were down as many as 12, at 42-30, on a Josh Smith hook shot with 10:50 left in the frame. From then on, the Nets began chipping away and were within two, at 50-48, on a Joe Johnson three at the 3:20 mark. A Mason Plumlee reverse dunk made it 52-50 Houston with 2:35 left. Houston responded with an 8-2 run to close the quarter, capped by a Harden three, so they took a 60-52 lead into halftime.
Houston kept that momentum going to start the third quarter, opening on an 8-2 run, capped by a Harden three (can sense a pattern here, right?), to lead 68-54 at the 9:09 mark. So, for roughly five-and-a-half minutes bridging the second and third quarters, Houston went on a 16-4 run that changed the game.
Houston kept it going, and outscored the Nets 26-18 in the third to take a commanding 86-70 lead into the fourth.
In the fourth, former Net Jason Terry made a three-pointer to on Houston’s opening possession of the fourth. As he was running back to the other end, he put his arms out like wings, embodying his nickname, Jet. This was pretty pathetic, as he missed his first three 3-point attempts and it already was “garbage time” with Houston up 19. The other notable thing of the fourth was that Joe Johnson played 3:35 and Jarrett Jack was out there for 6:43, interesting considering how Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins has talked about the heavy minutes each has played.
James Harden led Houston with 30 points on 9-for-13 form the field, 4-7 on threes, 8-8 on free throws, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals. Harden said of putting the game away early in the second half, “Yeah, especially on the road, you got to make sure you put teams away. You give any team the confidence, especially at home, anything can happen. We are feeling really good about ourselves right now.”
Harden said of the Garnett-Howard fight, “No, I think we’ve been lucky these last few games. A little hesitation wasn’t going to stop us from our goal, and that was to win the game. That was to go out there and execute defensively and offensively share the basketball and make sure everybody gets open shots.”
On resetting after it, Harden said, “Yeah, we were kind of fogged in. We started off hot and then they were scoring up easy points off our turnovers and things like that. Second half, we stopped turning the ball over, we got stops and we got out in transition.”
Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins said of the game, “I thought, in the first quarter, Houston made a lot of threes. We started with the score 37-23, and then we battled back in the second quarter. They got to us again in the third quarter and, once again, if you look at the numbers, we shot 46 percent from the field and 89 percent from the free throw line. We were right there rebounding-wise and we had 46 points in the paint. We had 18 second-chance points and they had 18. We had more fastbreak points than them. But it came down to us shooting 24 percent from three, 5-for-21, and the other side was 16-for-40. That was the difference in the game – if you looked at the score, it was 14 points. I tried a lot of different combinations, trying to get some spark, so maybe if we got closer, we could go back to the starters if we had a chance to win the game. The only spark we had was when we went back to the guys that started and it was too little, too late.”
Brook Lopez had the quote of the night on the Garnett-Howard fight, as he said, “No, I didn’t see a thing. I have no idea. I’m going to have to go home and watch it.”