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Houston we have a problem: Rockets deliver Nets 10th straight loss, 137-112

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NBA: Houston Rockets at Brooklyn Nets Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The Nets entered Sunday with their backs against the wall, having lost nine in a row and facing off against the lethal Houston Rockets with Brook Lopez sitting out due to rest.

The final: Houston 137, Brooklyn 112 on Taiwan Culture Night. No Lin on Jeremy Lin Bobblehead Night. No Brook Lopez either.

“We looked at the heavy schedule. Six games in nine days, two back-to-backs, and again, feedback from the performance team. We're thinking big picture, long-term,” Kenny Atkinson said before the game in explaining why no Lopez.

So, Brooklyn needed others to step up, which some did (in the first half), but the Houston Rockets (32-11) simply outmatched the rebuilding 8-32 Brooklyn Nets behind another splendid night from beyond the arc by Mike D’Anton’s crew.

They were led by the likes of James Harden (22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists), Eric Gordon (24 points) and Trevor Ariza (23 points, eight rebounds).

The Rockets, who attempt the most 3-pointers of any team in the NBA, shot 21-of-44 on the night, and totaled their second highest amount of points in a game.

Meanwhile, the Nets, who attempt the third most of any team in the NBA, shot 15-of-44 on the night, but just 9-of-33 (27 percent) in the final three quarters. Needless to say this was an absolute shootout. In fact, the 88 three point attempts tied the NBA record and the 44 by the Nets tied a team record, matching the number taken on Opening Night of this season.

“It’s a big part of what we do. We’ve got to make more,’’ Atkinson said of the three-point shooting. “We get a lot of open ones; that’s just a fact. … Obviously, we can get better there, be more efficient, make more of them. … It’s going to be part of our attack. We believe in it and need to get better at it to be a big part.”

No defense. All offense. Just the way fans like it, if not the way Atkinson and his staff like it.

Houston dropped 74 points in the first half after hitting 10 3-pointers on 20 attempts, and scoring 37 points in each quarter. The Nets, looking for offense with Lopez out, nailed nine on 22 attempts with 14 points coming from Trevor Booker and 12 from Joe Harris.

James Harden was relatively quiet with nine points in the half, but Eric Gordon (16 points) and Trevor Ariza (14 points) carried enough to give Houston a 74-66 lead at half.

Then, the third quarter came and James Harden had enough. The Rockets went on a 13-2 run to start and later led by as many as 20, behind a rejuvenated James Harden who scored 11 of his 22 points in the third.

The Nets trailed by 14 entering the fourth. You can’t fault their effort, really, but once again it was a game of catch up against a team with a lot more talent than the guys in black and white. It never happened. Houston actually went up by 29 midway through the quarter as Nets fans exited the arena disappointed yet again.

The Nets have lost an NBA-worst 10 straight games (15 of the last 16), while the Rockets have won 18 of the last 21.

“We cold never stop them,” Atkinson said of the defense after the game. “I don’t think we stopped them the whole night.”

He continued.

“There was really no point in the game where I felt like we had them under control. They had their way inside and outside, so it was an impressive offensive effort by them and then we were not up to par defensively. Not there.”

But wait, there was more from a depleted Kenny Atkinson.

“Again, they dominated us and there is just no way around it. We can talk all night.”

Trevor Booker (18 points, five rebounds and three steals) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (14 points, seven rebounds and three steals) were two of a few to step up in the absence of Brook Lopez. Joe Harris chipped in 12 and Randy Foye 13.

Surprisingly, the Nets set their season-high for assists with 29. But on a negative note, they allowed Houston to shoot 51 percent and out-rebound them 50-38.

Brook-Lin out on Jeremy Lin bobblehead night:

Both Brook Lopez (rest) and Jeremy Lin (hamstring) both sat out on Taiwanese Culture Night, when the Nets handed out Jeremy Lin bobbleheads against his former team. Lin will miss his 28th game, while Lopez will sit because of the exhausting schedule of six games in nine nights and three in the last four, according to Kenny Atkinson. He also mentioned how the performance team had a hand on the decision to rest Lopez. You can hear pre-game the audio below.

Prior to the game, Mike D’Antoni was asked again about Linsanity.

"It wasn't kind of fun, it was really fun," D'Antoni said. "As a coach, it was fun doing it. I was really proud of him and what he's done and it couldn't happen to a better person and I mean it goes deep. That's why you coach for a guy, for moments like that and people like him."

And if he’s out?

"That's your brains, D'Antoni said. "He's the one that going to be your motor. When he's not out there, it makes it tough. The league is about injuries. If you stay injury-free and be a good team, you have a chance. If you're injured, and you're not that good a team, you have no chance."

Next up: Tuesday at home vs. Toronto