Rockets push winning streak to 7 with win over Nets

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Garrison Mathews scored 12 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, and Josh Christopher enjoyed a memorable 20th birthday, as the Houston Rockets extended their winning streak to seven games with a 114-104 victory over the visiting Brooklyn Nets Wednesday night.

Mathews quieted the Nets’ final surge with a 3-pointer plus a steal and transition dunk that pushed the Rockets to a 107-97 lead with 3:28 remaining. Brooklyn had sliced a 20-point deficit to 95-91 with an 18-5 run bolstered by technical fouls on Eric Gordon and Jae’Sean Tate.

Gordon was ejected with 6:13 left having scored a team-high 21 points. Christopher added 18 points on 7-of-7 shooting with four 3-pointers. Christian Wood had 12 points and 15 rebounds.

The Nets rested Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge in the second half of a back-to-back. James Harden led Brooklyn with 25 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, while rookie Cam Thomas scored 18 points off the bench. Paul Millsap chipped in 10 points and six rebounds.

Tate provided the Rockets their first basket of the third quarter with a reverse layup at the 9:08 mark, but Houston continued to struggle offensively until its defense provided the fuel. Wood blocked a James Johnson drive that resulted in a driving layup by D.J. Augustin on the opposite end. The Rockets ended the quarter with flair, as Christopher followed his steal with an assist to KJ Martin, whose ferocious left-handed dunk gave Houston a 90-73 lead entering the fourth.

It was Gordon who provided the Rockets their working lead by scoring 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting before taking his first break in the first quarter. Houston bullied the Nets in the paint with 14 points and Brooklyn didn’t help its cause by shooting 9-for-25 in the quarter.

Christopher came alive in the second quarter, not only hounding Harden defensively but drilling a trio of 3-pointers to spark the Rockets offensively. Christopher forced a Harden turnover that yielded Mathews’ transition layup for a 36-25 lead at the 10:26 mark. When Christopher sank a 3-pointer following a pair of Mathews free throws courtesy of a flagrant foul on Nets center Nic Claxton, Houston pushed to a 49-29 lead. But Brooklyn responded to with a 12-0 run.

Harden hit four free throws and assisted on a Patty Mills 3 as Brooklyn cut the deficit to eight before the Rockets stabilized themselves, with a late Wood 3 yielding a 67-52 halftime lead.

--Field Level Media