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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Lowe's Senior CLASS, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.
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Rockets lose 126-106 to Orlando Magic; 4th straight loss for Rockets
Posted: March 9, 2020 -- 7:46 a.m. CT
HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- The Houston Rockets are in the midst of a rough patch. Sunday evening, the Rockets were mashed 126-106 by the Orlando Magic. Houston has lost four straight for the second time this season (Jan. 14 to Jan. /20); following that four-game streak, the Rockets won 13 of their next 17 games.
The way the Rockets have played during this current four-game losing streak seems unlikely to lead to another 13-4 run in the positive direction. In Sunday's loss, the Rockets trailed by as much as 32 points to a sub-.500 team. Houston has trailed by as much as 30 points in back-to-back home games. (The Clippers crushed the Rockets by 120-105 on March 5.)
"It's funny; just eight days ago we were rolling," Rockets Head Coach, Mike D'Antoni said after the game. "And, then all of a sudden the bottom fell out."
Despite the recent skid, D'Antoni remains confident in his team.
"We're searching for answers, and we'll find them," D'Antoni added. "We have a bunch of guys that'll hang in there; and, we'll get through this."
James Harden sank two free throws to tie the game at 16. The Magic finished the first quarter with a 18-8 run to lead 34-24 at the end of the quarter.
Orlando (28-35) went on a 17-7 run to stretch the lead to 50-31 with 8:03 remaining until halftime. Houston committed 8 turnovers in the second quarter which Orlando turned into 8 points.
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In addition to the turnovers, the Rockets were crushed in second-chance points. The Rockets were outscored 22-0 in second-chance points in the first half.
TWENTY-TWO TO ZERO.
Houston trailed 71-46 at halftime.
The Rockets cut down the turnovers in the third quarter and shot 50.0% (12 for 24) from the floor; but, their defense took a siesta. Orlando shot 66.7% (12 for 180 in the third quarter and outscored Houston 34-30. Houston trailed by as much as 31 in the third quarter.
Rockets' fans booed. Some fans left the game at the end of the third quarter.
Orlando enjoyed its largest lead of the game (110-78) at the 11:05 mark of the fourth quarter. More boos rained down on the Rockets. Houston trimmed 12 points off the massive deficit; but, it was way too little and way too late.
Houston had 18 turnovers in the game after recording 21 at Charlotte Saturday night. In the 14 games prior, the Rockets averaged 12.2 turnovers per game, down from an overall season average of 14.6 turnovers per game.
D.J. Augustin led the Magic with 24 points on 7 for 10 field goal shooting off the bench (4 for 6 threes, 6 for 6 free throws).
Russell Westbrook led the Rockets in scoring with 24 points on 9 for 19 field goal shooting. Harden scored 23 points on 6 for 19 field goal shooting.
"We're not really worried," Harden acknowledged. "Just – frustrated. It seems like it's just all going bad; but, the only way you get out of it is to keep pushing through; keep fighting through it; and, the tide will turnaround. We'll make a turnaround."
NBA vet Jeff Green summarized the Rockets' struggles.
"To be honest with you, I think we just hit a rough patch," Green commented. "We're kind of relying on our offense I think a little bit too much. Then, when that slides, and we don't hold it on the defensive end and both of them are sliding, that's the result. We just got to get back to fundamentals. We got another game Tuesday, that's the greatest part about it. We got to find a way to turn it around there."
The Rockets next game is Tuesday, March 10, at home, against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Tip is set for 7 p.m.
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