Nets Coach P. J. Carlesimo so respected the Rockets' James Harden and Jeremy Lin that before Friday's game, he compared trying to stop them to the fable of the Little Dutch Boy. As the story goes, the boy discovered a leak in a dike and used his finger to plug the hole. In Carlesimo's analogy, his Nets were the boy, and the Rockets were the unrelenting North Sea.
The Rockets pushed the ball all night at Barclays Center, with their dribblers, screeners and shooters blending well. Their lead swelled to 15 early in the fourth quarter, but the Nets came back, cutting the deficit to 3 before falling, 106-96.
Lin was back in New York, about one year after the birth of Linsanity, with his high-octane team. The Rockets, according to the NBA.com advanced statistics tool, play at the N.B.A.'s fastest pace; e the Nets play at the slowest.
The Nets (33-23) were also trying to keep up without Joe Johnson, who missed the game with a sore left heel, and with a hobbled Deron Williams, who missed 12 of his 17 shots.
For a while, they did.
The Nets trailed, 77-75, as the third quarter wound down. But then Harden hit two 3-pointers, and his teammates sank two more 3-pointers to start the fourth, and the Houston lead quickly swelled to 15.
Brook Lopez led the Nets with 27 points, and he was effective from all over the court, but it was Mirza Teletovic's clutch jumpers, with help from C. J. Watson, that gave the Nets new hope.
Teletovic scored 9 points and Watson added 5 as the Nets made a 19-7 fourth-quarter run.
The crowd was roaring when the Rockets' Carlos Delfino launched a 3-pointer from the left wing. The ball swished, and the crowd deflated. Delfino hit another shot, Harden added a 3-pointer, and the game was effectively over.
"The way we played in the second half is the way we need to play the whole game," Keith Bogans said. "We fought. We played defense. We got stops. Just that little stretch at the end, we didn't make any shots."
Delfino hit six 3-pointers, Harden hit four, and each scored 22 points. With the way the Rockets ran and passed so unselfishly, it was sometimes hard to determine which Rocket had scored -- Harden, Lin, Delfino or Chandler Parsons.
The crowd clearly noticed, though, when Lin had the ball. His first shot clanged off the rim, and the fans groaned. When he bounced a pass between a defender's legs, they oohed. And when he made a hanging layup, they aahed.
Source: The New York Times | TIM ROHAN