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Old 01-12-2015, 10:40 PM   #1
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Harden has 30, Rockets rout Nets after Howard-Garnett fight

James Harden scored 30 points, carrying Houston on a night when Dwight Howard did little after fighting with Kevin Garnett, and the Rockets beat the slumping Brooklyn Nets 113-99 on Monday.

Garnett was ejected in the first quarter after head-butting Howard in the face and throwing the ball at him, while Howard received a technical foul after appearing to punch or slap Garnett in the neck.

Howard had a quiet night otherwise, finishing with eight points and five rebounds, but the Rockets didn't need much in the middle while dominating from the outside with 16 3-pointers in 40 attempts.

Mason Plumlee scored a career-high 24 points for the Nets, who lost their sixth straight.

Houston has won four in a row, all by double digits, and blew away a Nets team that had held its previous eight opponents under 100 points, the longest streak in the NBA this season.

The Nets played well offensively after struggling to score during their skid coming into the night. But they consistently lost Houston's shooters on the perimeter, and the Rockets easily surpassed their NBA-best average of 11.8 3-pointers per game.

They already had 17 points in the first 4 minutes before the Howard-Garnett scuffle.

Garnett was angry after he was called for a foul against Howard with 7:53 left in the first quarter, and the players lightly shoved each other. Garnett then threw the ball into Howard's back, and as the players went face-to-face, Garnett rammed his head into the area near Howard's mouth.

Howard responded with his right hand, and even after the players were separated, Garnett tried to get at Howard again before being escorted toward the locker room.

Howard received a technical foul and the star center, who wanted to be traded to the Nets when he played for Orlando, was then booed every time he touched the ball. But that wasn't much because the Rockets were better off keeping it in the hands of Harden, the NBA's leading scorer who shot 9 for 13.

The Rockets broke a tie atop the Southwest Division with the Memphis Grizzlies, whom the Nets host on Wednesday as coach Lionel Hollins faces his former team.


Rockets: A strange bit of scheduling had the Rockets in New York for the second time in five nights -- but with a trip back to Houston in the middle. The Rockets won at the Knicks on Thursday, had to go home to play Utah on Saturday, then turned around and came right back to New York. Coach Kevin McHale seemed disgusted by it but wouldn't say much beyond calling it a "bad schedule." Asked who among the Rockets realized it first on the schedule, he said, "Everybody noticed it."

Nets: Hollins, before the game, on the Nets' offensive struggles: "We have established an identity. We don't make shots. That is an identity." Among their problems, they came in ranked 25th in both points per game and 3-point shooting percentage. "We have guys who have been great shooters or good shooters throughout their careers wherever they've played and I don't know, maybe I'm the problem," Hollins said. "I don't shoot them, but I'm sure that behind closed doors without the microphone on some players may say that I'm the problem that they can't shoot."


Rockets: Visit Orlando on Wednesday.

Nets: Host Memphis on Wednesday.

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