Western Watch: Rockets open early lead, beat Pistons

Western Watch: Rockets open early lead, beat Pistons
March 1, 2014, 8:00 pm
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Dwight Howard above chipped in 17 points and eight rebounds in the Rockets' 118-110 win over Detroit. (USATSI)

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Programming note: Warriors-Raptors coverage Sunday at 12:30 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (territory restrictions apply)

The Rockets opened up their game with the Pistons like a house of fire, opening up a 10-point lead in less than three minutes on their way to a 118-110 win.

The Rockets were without Chandler Parsons, who was out with a sinus infection and suffering from migraines, but the team hardly missed a beat, getting 13 points from Jordan Hamilton in his first start with the Rockets. Terrence Jones led the Rockets with 22 points and he also pulled down 10 rebounds for his 14th double-double of the season. More importantly though, he opened the game unlike he had for the last month when he averaged just 10 points per game.

James Harden also had a double-double with 20 points and 12 assists. Dwight Howard added 17 points and eight rebounds. The final starter to reach double-figures was Pat Beverley; he pumped in 10 points in the fourth quarter, giving him 19 for the game. He made five 3-pointers to tie his career high.

The game was over when
The Rockets never let the Pistons get any closer than seven points. But when the Rockets got an offensive rebound to drain another 24 seconds off the clock with under a minute to go, they could finally let out their collective breaths.

Highlight of the night
Even in a first half in which the Rockets crammed down 10 dunks, one stood out above the others.

With less than a minute remaining until halftime, Harden got a steal and flipped the ball back in bounds to Dwight Howard just above the 3-point line. Howard spotted Jones headed to the rim and he floated him a beautiful alley-oop and Jones slam brought the Toyota Center crowd to their feet. The dunk also put the Rockets up 25 points, matching their largest lead of the first half.

Numbers of the night
With Parsons out due to illness, Hamilton made his first start since joining the team. He scored 13 points and all five starters scored in double figures for the 15th time this season. Houston is now 13-2 in such games.

Next up
Houston will face the defending champion Miami Heat for the first time this season on Tuesday night. Houston has lost their last seven games against the Heat, obviouslu that means all six of their games against the Heat since LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh began playing together in Miami.

James averages 25.7 points pet game against the Rockets in 19 career games, that's his third lowest against any team in the league. He's also shooting 45.9 percent in his career versus Houston, which is his second lowest mark against any team in the league.The Rockets are undefeated against the eastern conference this season, winning all 12 of their matchups thus far. Indiana and Philadelphia will be the final two eastern conference teams to visit Toyota Center.

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