Orlando Magic vs. Houston Rockets: Live Score and Analysis

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Orlando Magic vs. Houston Rockets: Live Score and Analysis
Bill Baptist/Getty Images

James Harden had 27 points and 10 assists and Dwight Howard had 20 points and 22 rebounds on his 28th birthday as the Houston Rockets downed the Orlando Magic, 98-88, on Sunday night.

The Rockets built a double-digit lead in the first quarter and never looked back, using seven first period threes to pull away from the Magic early.

Terrence Jones also had a great night, posting 16 points, 13 boards and five blocks.

This was anything but a perfect game for Houston, however. The Rockets shot only 42 percent from the floor and went a paltry 24-of-42 from the free-throw line. They also turned the ball over 20 times, and for that reason, Orlando was allowed to hang around and put a little bit of a scare into Houston late.

The Magic were absolutely awful offensively, shooting 34 percent and having their only struggles at the charity stripe, where they shot 16-of-28.

Orlando has now lost five straight games.

Let's analyze the keys to this game.


Dominant Frontcourt Play by Houston

With no Nikola Vucevic for the Magic, you knew going in that Orlando was going to have a tough time containing Howard. However, it also had an incredibly difficult time dealing with Jones.

The pair of big men wreaked havoc all night, crashing the glass, grabbing offensive boards and protecting the rim on the other end.

Jones continues to play well for Houston and has emerged as one of the key pieces to this ballclub. He had a feverish stretch in the third quarter, scoring 10 points and swatting a shot at the buzzer, much to the delight of the Toyota Center crowd.


Outstanding Playmaking by James Harden and Chandler Parsons

The Rockets are fortunate enough to essentially have three point guards in their starting lineup.

Harden and Chandler Parsons are simply outstanding playmakers, and tonight, they did a superb job of breaking down the defense and finding cutters for easy buckets and three-point plays.

Harden and Parsons combined for 14 assists.


Terrible Offense by the Magic

Of course, the Rockets defense deserves plenty of credit, as they swarmed all night and did a great job of rotating onto the ball, but Orlando was clueless offensively in this one.

They couldn't get Arron Afflalo going, and it took until the fourth quarter for Jameer Nelson to finally start percolating.

Orlando shot just 8-of-29 from downtown, and despite only turning the ball over seven times, the Magic were all out of sorts on the offensive side of the ball.

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