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Final: Houston Rockets blast Brooklyn Nets 119-106

A lost second quarter dooms the Nets.

Scott Halleran

P.J. Carlesimo made adjustments - including benching his mercurial backup center - but the Nets couldn't overcome a 24-6 Rockets run to start the second quarter in a 119-106 loss in Houston tonight.

Deron Williams kept the Nets afloat with a monster first quarter. He went 7-7 and scored 20 of their 29 points - including a three that edged them ahead by a point entering the second stanza.

But when Williams went to the bench, the Nets went dead on both ends of the floor. The Rockets controlled the paint, with Omer Asik and Greg Smith scoring a plethora of easy baskets while the Nets offense was limited to five Jerry Stackhouse points and a pair of Brook Lopez free throws.

Andray Blatche was a part of that stretch. He played some questionable defense and then attempted to go one-on-one with Smith with some fancy dribble moves and a missed fadeaway. He was removed at the next opportunity and never returned. Another adjustment made by Carlesimo was a third quarter switch from an ineffective Reggie Evans to Mirza Teletovic, who played just over 12 minutes and was a team high +9.

Part of the problem was that the Nets got sucked into playing at the Rockets' preferred pace. "We felt from the beginning that shot selection and controlling the tempo offensively was going to be big." said a perplexed Carlesimo "We took too many threes, especially early in the clock. They're open, but it's more the way they want to play."

The Rockets were led by their All-Star (and the only one playing in this game) James Harden who scored a game-high 29 and added 7 assists. Omer Asik had 20 points and 16 rebounds as Houston dominated the boards by an eye-opening 60-37 margin. Chandler Parsons put up a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds and Jeremy Lin dished out 9 assists.

The Nets were led by Williams, who finished with 27 points and 11 assists. Williams rolled his ankle in the second quarter, but continued to play well despite cooling off from the floor. His 5 threes led a Nets barrage from behind the arc - draining a season high 16 from long range. Lopez came alive in the second half, drawing fouls and hitting 9 of his 10 free throws and ended up with 21 points and 7 rebounds despite a slow start. Joe Johnson looked off, putting up only 13 points on 5 of 14 shooting but did deal out 6 assists. Evans had one of his worst games of the year, amassing 1 point and only 8 rebounds in over 25 minutes of action - a rebounding rate well below his season average. His missed the rim on a five foot shot by approximately the width of two basketballs, which may have contributed to his early exit (until garbage time, anyway).

The Nets go to 26-18, 5th in the East and 4 games behind the frontrunning Miami Heat. The Rockets are now 24-22, 8th in the West and 11 back of the first place Thunder.

Quick Notes:

- Williams was ejected with the game out of reach in the 4th. He actually drew the whistle, but said something to official David Jones that was apparently not to his liking.

- The Nets gave up 60 points in the first half for the second straight night.

- In a battle of the NBA's fastest and slowest paced teams, fast beat slow.

- Gerald Wallace had 4 baskets in the second half. In the previous two-and-a-half games, he had zero.

- The Nets were outscored 32-6 in the paint. They scored 6 points in the paint. That's 6. 6 points.