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Too much Carlos Delfino? Yes, too much Carlos Delfino; Nets fall to Rockets, 106-96

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden and Jeremy Lin were in town tonight, and they brought their high-powered offense with them. For the Nets, they were down a man, with Joe Johnson (foot) out of the lineup. In his place, C.J. Watson picked the start, but the Nets offense failed to keep pace with the Rockets, who were able to challenge the Nets' defense working both the inside-outside game and exploiting matchups -- small vs. big.

The lack of defensive adjustments, minus Johnson, plus too much Delfino equals a 106-96 loss. Apparently. This was the 13th straight loss for the Nets against the Rockets.

What's impressive about Houston's offense is that despite the fact that Harden scored just seven points in the first half, they still managed to put up 61 points in shoot 58 percent from the floor after two quarters. The Nets showed up offensively, so to speak, in the first half, with Brook Lopez really giving Omer Asik and Greg Smith all they could handle defensively, scoring 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting, but, again, it was all about defense -- or lack thereof.

The Rockets were able to get some open looks early, which caused the Nets to play on their heels early. Especially when the Rockets were able to hit 8-of-15 threes in the first half, forcing the Nets to pull out, getting beat on high pick-and-rolls and opening up some looks in the paint for guys like Smith, Asik and even Donatas Montiejunas.

Halftime: Nets down 8 points, 61-53.

In the second half the Nets fell flat early on. Lopez, to his credit, continued to give them some nice looks on offense, scoring 10 of the team's 22 second-quarter points, but really they were unable to get into a full-on rhythm. Even as -- or shall I say especially as -- the Rockets themselves went five minutes to start the quarter having only scored three points (a Carlos Delfino three, naturally).

The fourth quarter got a little interesting, as the Nets -- namely, the bench -- rattled off an 11-2 run to pull within five points, followed by a Harden 3-point play. But, then came Mirza Teletovic. Freed at last! He opened up the offense for the Nets, stretching the floor with back-to-back long jumpers, scoring nine 4th quarter points and pulling the Nets to within three, with two minutes remaining.

However, as you headline readers can gather, it was too much Carlos Delfino in the final two minutes of the ball game and "not enough" Joe Johnson. The Nets clearly missed Johnson down the stretch, as they had to rely on Watson, Keith Bogans and, yes, Teletovic to bridge the gap. And for as well as Teletovic and Watson played, they aren't "go-to" players.

And, not to mention, it was a little late on the part of coach P.J. Carlesimo to make the adjustment to go small. The defense had trouble with the stretch, especially the bigs (Reggie Evans, Andray Blatche, etc.).

Delfino, who made 6-of-9 threes and scored 22 points caused them far too many fits. On a night when Harden scored a mere 22 points, the Nets couldn't take advantage.

Brook Lopez scored a game-high 27 points, but Williams, who had 15 points and 13 assists, shot just 5-of-17 from the floor.

For more on the Rockets, see: The Dream Shake