With playoff implications hanging on every game for the balance of the regular season, this was a game the Houston Rockets had to have.
But it didn't figure to come easily when the Rockets learned they'd be playing without both James Harden (foot) and Chandler Parsons (illness). That meant the up-tempo Rockets would need to compensate for the missing 41.1 points per game, 10.1 rebounds and 9.3 assists left in Harden's and Parsons' absence.
Still, the remaining healthy Rockets looked to put this game in the bag early. They sprinted out to a 27-9 run out of the gate and carried that into a comfortable 32-14 lead after the first quarter.
And the game should have never been in doubt after that. They stretched the lead 23 points at the half and had a 17-point edge heading into the game's final quarter.
Houston's bench nearly gave the game away late but still made just enough stretch for the Rockets (41-33) to salvage a 111-103 win over the Magic (19-56) thanks to a number of contributors.