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Nets Can't Answer Garnett's Rally Cry; Drop Sixth Straight Game vs. Houston, 113-99

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Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets certainly went to sleep and underwent a nightmare Monday night vs. Houston, except it wasn't a 'Dwightmare' caused by Dwight Howard.

It was James Harden's day.

Harden scored 30 points and dished out six assists on 9-of-13 shooting and 8-of-8 from the free throw line, leading the Houston Rockets over the Brooklyn Nets, 113-99. Harden may have stolen the show during the game, but the hype heading into this game was Dwight Howard's debut at the Barclays Center, three years after demanding a trade to the Nets just to later opt-in with Orlando a night before the trade was going to be executed.

Tensions with Howard arose early. Just four minutes into the game, and a 13-of-14 combined shooting from the teams, Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard got into an altercation. After Garnett fouled Howard softly, he threw the ball, then head-butted Howard. Howard then slapped Garnett in the neck, resulting in a technical foul for himself and an ejection for KG. It looked to be a rally cry from the 20-year veteran, but the Nets couldn't sustain their hot shooting with Houston's dominance.

Howard ended his night with eight points and five rebounds in 28 minutes of action.

The Rockets opened up the night 7-of-7 from the floor, resulting in a 37-point first quarter and an eight point lead over the Nets. The Nets answered with a solid defensive second quarter as they cut their deficit down to two with two minutes remaining in the half. Houston, behind Harden, then went on a 16-4 run that carried over into the third quarter. It was only the beginning.

Houston extended the lead to 18 in the third quarter, which then increased 23 in the fourth quarter; their largest of the night. James Harden was headed into the fourth quarter with 30 points, the first player to score 30 points on the Nets all season. The boo-birds were out at Barclays as the Brooklyn crowd watched their team surrender their sixth straight loss and drop to 16-22 on the season.

The loss also breaks the Nets seven-game streak of holding teams under 100 points.

The Rockets shot the ball at 47.7% and 40% from three, while Brooklyn shot 46.4% from the field and 23.8% from three. Prior to tip-off, Lionel Hollins said the Nets 'Don't make shots'. Perhaps, he was talking about their three point shooting?

One of the few bright spots for Brooklyn, as always, was Mason Plumlee. He finished with his ninth double-double on the season with 24 points and 10 rebounds. The 24 points is a career-high for the second year pro out of Duke. Jarrett Jack was second in line behind Plumlee, scoring 13 points and five assists on 6-of-16 shooting, while Bojan Bogdanovic chipped in 13 points and Brook Lopez 12.

Other than Harden, Donatas Motiejunas dropped 18 points and 11 rebounds in 37 minutes of action. New acquisition, Josh Smith finished with 13 points and six rebounds.

Post-game, all the talk was about the scuffle.

"Kevin did a lot for us, got us going," Plumlee said of Garnett, who didn't speak to reporters. "Those are the kind of games as a team you want to win and we didn't do that."

"Doesn't matter. We won the game. That's what matters," Howard said. "We've got 82 games and the playoffs. I'll do my damage when it's time.

"Every time I play him he's always talking trash. He'll have you so upset by the end of the game. ... Most of the time, he's just talking to himself, but you just think he's talking to you, so it's crazy."

"In the good old days, that was a play-on," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "Now, they throw people out. I didn't think it was that big of a deal."

Things will only get tougher from here for Brooklyn. They face off against the Memphis Grizzlies this Wednesday, then play in a home-and-home against the Washington Wizards. It doesn't appear the Nets are prepared to 'handle the truth.' Just look at the record, it speaks for itself.

Quarter by quarter summary:

First quarter ... Tensions arose early. Just four minutes into the game, after a 13-of-14 combined shooting from the teams, Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard got into an altercation. After Garnett fouled Howard softly, he threw the ball and head-butted Howard. Howard then slapped Garnett in the neck, resulting in a technical foul for himself and an ejection for KG.

As the game itself progressed, the Rockets started 7-of-7 from the field, the Nets 6-of-7 with Houston holding a 24-17 lead. James Harden was "like a freight train" as Ian Eagle explained, scoring 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting. The Rockets finished the quarter 5-of-11 from three and 13-of-22 from the field, resulting in a 37-28 first quarter advantage. For Brooklyn, Mason Plumlee checked out of the game with 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting. Brooklyn as a whole shot outstanding -- 13-of-21 (62%) -- but couldn't buckle down on the defensive end.

Second quarter ... The Nets cut their deficit down to two with 1:47 minutes remaining, but the Rockets ended the half on an 8-2 run behind 20-first half points from James Harden. The Rockets (somewhat) cooled off in the second quarter, shooting 8-of-18 from the field and scoring just 23 points. Mason Plumlee was the anchor for Brooklyn's 55% from the floor, scoring 16 points on 7-of-8 from the field, his career-high in a half.

The Nets turned the ball over 11 times in the first half, but forced nine Houston turnovers which led to 15 fastbreak points for the home team.

Score at the half: Rockets 60, Nets 52.

Third quarter ... The Rockets' late run in the first half carried over into the third quarter. They found their largest lead of the night at 14 behind an 8-2 run from Houston. They extended the lead to 18 after Brooklyn's offense was caught stagnant as usual, which seems to be the story of the Nets' season: Their inability to play a full 48-minute game. They were outscored 26-18 and trailed, 86-70. James Harden had 30 points, six rebounds and two steals heading into the fourth quarter.

Fourth quarter ... The Rockets built their lead to 23 early in the fourth quarter. The Nets would cut it to 15, but the fight was gone and the deficit never decreased the way Brooklyn had hoped for. James Harden and Dwight Howard didn't log any minutes in the fourth.

Final score: Houston 113, Nets 99.

For more on the Houston Rockets, check them out at The Dream Shake.