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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Rockets cruise past Pistons, 118-110

Terrence Jones led six Rockets in double digit scoring

Posted: March 1, 2014 -- 10:40 pm CST.

HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- The Houston Rockets exploded for 41 first quarter points and cruised to a 118-110 victory over the Detroit Pistons. The Rockets exploited the Pistons indifference towards defense to the tune of 8 dunks in the opening 12 minutes and led 41-20 at the end of the first quarter.

"We came out; and, we were really clicking," said Kevin McHale after the game. "We came out and really moved the ball. We had it going up and down and just did a nice job of doing what we've been talking about doing which is attacking early; getting inside to Dwight (Howard) and making some nice passes and the offense was clicking. Terrence (Jones) had a good high energy tonight which was good to see."

The Rockets shot 70.8% (17 for 24 from the field) in the opening quarter and never trailed the entire ball game which is the eighth time this season the Rockets have never trailed in a ball game.

"We did a good job of coming out with some aggression and get some defensive stops and getting out in transition," said James Harden.

All five Rockets' starters scored in double figures. Terrence Jones scored a team-high 22 points while James Harden scored 20 points and dished out a game-high 12 assists. Patrick Beverley scored 19 points and sank 5 of 9 three-point shots. Dwight Howard added 17 points. Omri Casspi scored 16 points off the bench. Jordan Hamilton chipped in 13 points in his first start in a Rockets' uniform.

The Rockets (40-19) led by 23 points at halftime and took the pedal off the metal in the second half and allowed the listless Pistons to crawl within seven points (114-107) with 94 seconds left in the game.

"We got a big lead going into halftime and didn't play very well in the second half, McHale said."

Terrence Jones described the difference between the first and second halves as they simply stopped playing.

"I think guys just stopped playing a little bit because of the lead," Jones said. "We just tried to make sure we got back to it on the defensive end and make sure we got the win."

James Harden added, "It's tough when you're up twenty-something points and trying to contain it and hold it; but, we found a way to win the game."

With the win, the Rockets reached their 40th victory of the regular season in just 59 games which is the second fastest to 40 wins in team history behind the 55 games (40-15) in the 1993-'94 season.

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