NBA: James Harden, Nets hoping they can throttle Rockets

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Mar 31 2021 11:27 PM

While the Brooklyn Nets continue to win consistently, they are encountering some uncomfortable moments.

Coming off another close win, Brooklyn looks to maintain its roll Wednesday night when it hosts the Houston Rockets.

The Nets are 18-3 in their past 21 games and 8-2 since the All-Star break. Before the break, Brooklyn posted 13 double-digit wins. But since the break, its largest margin of victory is a 12-point win over Boston on March 11.

Brooklyn's last seven wins are by nine points or fewer, and five of those victories were decided by five points or fewer. On Monday, the Nets held on for a 112-107 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves after taking a 17-point lead in the first half, and the latest win occurred three nights after Brooklyn pulled out a 113-111 win in Detroit.

"We found a way to win it in the end, but we've got a lot to improve upon," Nets coach Steve Nash said. "We just had a pretty poor patch recently with our play and not at our best."

James Harden helped the Nets survive Monday by totaling 38 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds for his 12th triple-double with the team. Harden tied the franchise record that Jason Kidd set in 2006-07 and matched the following season but also played at least 40 minutes for the fifth time since the All-Star break.

"It's just small things that we can correct, and we will correct," Harden said. "I just think we're looking at these teams we're playing. It's like all right, we might get away with it. But we gotta think bigger picture and try to be more consistent in our communication and in our principles and our fundamentals."

Harden's latest triple-double was aided by the return of Kyrie Irving from a three-game absence to attend to a family situation. Irving added 27 points, and the duo was a combined 22 of 47 from the floor.

Houston can feel better about not being on a long losing streak as it is 2-3 since its 20-game skid. Its 132-114 loss to the Nets was its 13th straight during a 20-game skid that ended with a 117-99 win over Toronto on March 22.

On Monday, the Rockets suffered a 120-110 home loss to the Memphis Grizzlies when they faded in the fourth quarter. After holding a one-point lead through three, Houston shot 25 percent (6 of 24), allowed 52.2 percent shooting and was outscored 30-19 in the fourth.

It was the second time in three games Houston collapsed in the fourth. On Friday, the Rockets were handed a 107-101 loss in Minnesota when they blew a 19-point lead and allowed the game's final 22 points.

"The looseness of our possessions in Minnesota in comparison to tonight where we executed, made the extra pass, and had some open looks," Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. "Very, very different than the Minnesota game. This was a game where we went cold in the fourth quarter."

Kelly Olynyk scored 25 points Monday when the Rockets were without Christian Wood for the second straight game. Wood missed Saturday's game with right ankle soreness and sat out Monday due to an illness.

Besides hoping Wood can play, the Rockets are hoping John Wall can start reversing some recent shooting woes. Wall shot 2 of 12 Monday and is shooting 31.5 percent (41 of 130) in his last seven games since scoring 36 points against the Nets on March 3.

--Field Level Media


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