ROCKETS 109 KNICKS 96 | MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
How it happened:
For the second time this season, the Rockets possessed the right elixir to ground the Knicks. Led by James Harden’s team-high 28 points, Houston ended New York’s four-game winning streak and became the first opposing team to win at Madison Square Garden this year. The Knicks fell to 18-6 on the season in the 109-96 defeat while the Rockets improved to 12-12.
The Knicks offense struggled to manufacture points with Carmelo Anthony sidelined for the second straight game due to a sprained ankle. Rasheed Wallace also missed the contest as he is dealing with a sore foot.
Coach Mike Woodson placed Chris Copeland at the power forward spot in the starting lineup for the second time in his career. Copeland finished with a career-high 29 points in the defeat, J.R. Smith added 17 off the pine, and Felton dropped 14 points.
After trailing by 14 points at the half, New York made a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to just seven points with 8:39 remaining in the third quarter. Harden quickly flipped the momentum back to the fellas in red by drilling consecutive long bombs in the midst of a 15-2 Rockets spurt.
Houston never looked back after grabbing the lead in the third period and ended an incredible 10-game experience for the New York home crowd.
"We came out ready to play, we had a pretty solid first quarter then from there on it went the other way…. The defense wasn’t there tonight. We have to go back to the drawing board and get some practice time under our belt when we can and try to correct it.” -- Mike Woodson
Hand it to Copeland for his continued effort throughout the entire contest. The power forward earned his second start in place of Anthony and scored all 29 of his points in the second half. He shot 11-of-19 from the floor, 3-of-5 behind the arc, and grabbed five boards. Woodson can now rely on Copeland throughout the season to provide relief for some of the veterans on the frontline.
Despite the loss, the Knicks managed to outrebound the Rockets 45-42. However, fast break points killed the home team as Houston outscored New York 25-10 in the open floor.
The Knicks will have a day off to rest and prepare for another home contest on Wednesday night against the Brooklyn Nets. With the season series tied at 1-1, Brooklyn will look for revenge after the Knicks topped the Nets last week on a Jason Kidd game-winner.