The Houston Rockets allowed the Orlando Magic to stick with them for nearly four quarters, but managed to run away with the game in the last two-plus minutes. The Rockets pulled away to win the game 118-110.
The story for the Rockets was hot 3-point shooting and good team basketball. The Rockets hit 14 3-point field goals and had 27 assists on 41 field goals. James Harden said to FOX Sports Magic that it was "either win or go home," and he said that "Our consistency and attention to detail..and hard work will be big as well," when asked what the key to making the playoffs would be.
The Rockets pull one game closer with this victory, and the Rockets ended a five game losing streak against the Magic with the victory.
Jeremy Lin had a much better game than his humble stat line would indicate. He scored 11 points on three-of-six shooting (including two-of-twi from 3-point range) and dished out five assists, but Lin played superb defense on E'Twaun Moore and Beno Udrih.
Lin frustrated the Magic guards and held them to a combined five-of-13 from the floor. Moore made up for it with his 11 assists, but Lin effectively slid his feet on defense and limited the penetration options for both Udrih and Moore.
James Harden had one of his more quiet games of the season. He scored just four points in the first half, and was having trouble getting many looks at the basket. Harden was bothered by a gimpy ankle, and his mobility did seem affected at times.
Credit great defense by Aaron Afflalo and Maurice Harkless for Harden's "quiet" 24 points, but more than anything, the NBA's fifth leading scorer looked like he just needed a night off.
Even with that being the case, he was just two assists and three rebounds shy of a triple-double and he got to the line nine times. Harden's off night is still better than most guys' "on nights."
Chandler Parsons grew up in Central Florida and he made his return to his old stomping grounds for the contest against the Magic. Parsons attended the University of Florida, and he seemed to like being back in his home state.
Parsons had 21 points on nine-of-15 shooting, including hitting three-of-seven from behind the arc. Parsons also dished out four assists and ran the ball well in transition, helping the Rockets pull away late in the fourth quarter. He also had the highest plus-minus of any Houston player at plus-12.
He had a night off for the most part defensively, since Maurice Harkless is more of a utility defender than a scorer for the Magic (though Harkless did score 13).
Donatas Motiejunas is not too dissimilar from a young Pau Gasol. Much like Pau, Motiejunas has an awesome skill set, great coordination and a knack for playing basketball. Time and experience are going to make the No. 20 overall pick from the 2011 NBA draft a very good player.
He finished seven-of-12 from the floor, and the 7'0" forward spread the court with two 3-point field goals. Motiejunas scored a career high 17 points.
The only fault that could be found with his performance is the fact he grabbed only three rebounds and also had three turnovers. More time in the weight room will help Motiejunas box out better and get more boards. He's a very thin 222 pounds.
He gave up a lot of buckets to Orlando's Andrew Nicholson, too, putting a dimmer on an otherwise very bright night for him.
Omer Asik had a tougher battle on the boards than most nights against the Orlando Magic. Asik, the NBA's third-leading rebounder at 11.6 per game had the task of going toe-to-toe with the fifth-leading rebounder Nikola Vucevic of Orlando.
Asik won the battle of the boards between them, grabbing 12 to Vucevic's 10, but Asik was out-scored by the Magic 5-man 18-9. Asik had the second highest plus-minus of any Rockets player at plus-12, and his play was solid all night in preventing the Magic from getting an even bigger game out of the ever-improving Vucevic.
Grade: B +
Carlos Delfino's play was huge off the bench and helped sustain the Rockets while James Harden was having a slow night. Harden's four first half points were offset by Delfino's brilliant game, and the Argentine swingman hit five of the Rockets' 15 threes.
He finished six-of-12 from the floor for 21 points and the Magic were slow getting to him time and time again, despite the fact that he wasn't missing. Delfino is shooting 38.9 percent from behind the arc on the season, and tonight he pulled out all the stops on the Magic.
His dagger with just over two minutes in the game gave Houston a 10-point lead and pretty much sealed it up.
The Houston bench outside of Carlos Delfino and Patrick Beverley consisted of 12 pretty ineffective minutes from Thomas Robinson and nine from Greg Smith. They attempted only one field goal between them, a bucket by Robinson, and they had just four rebounds combined.
Robinson's defense against Tobias Harris was wildly inept, and it wasn't like Harris was killing him with experience, so Robinson still has a long ways to go as a defender at the NBA level.
But Beverley's play made up for the lack of depth that Houston now has, following trading four rotation players at the deadline. Beverley played harassing defense on E'Twaun Moore and forced him into a couple of turnovers.
Beverley also scored 13 points and dished out six assists. Most impressively, he had just one turnover in 22 minutes of play. He was playing so well that Kevin McHale left Jeremy Lin to rest longer.
Bench Grade (Minus Delfino): C -