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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 overwhelm short-handed Orlando, 132-90
POSTED: January 9, 2021 -- 12:40 a.m. CT
HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- The Houston Rockets overwhelmed the short-handed Orlando Magic 132-90 Friday night. Orlando's pregame Injury Report looked like a M*A*S*H unit:
Al-Farouq Aminu (Out – Right Knee Injury Recovery); Michael Carter-Williams (Out – Sprained Left Foot); Evan Fournier (Questionable – Low Back Spasms); Markelle Fultz (Out – Torn ACL, Left Knee); Aaron Gordon (Out – Left Hamstring Injury Management); Jonathan Isaac (Out – Left Knee Injury Recovery); Chuma Okeke (Out – Left Knee Bone Bruise).
Evan Fournier's injury status changed from "Questionable" to "Out"; therefore, Orlando missed another scoring option. The Rockets have been in similar spots this season; so, they had no sympathy for the Magic.
Houston (3-4) did what they needed to do to snap a two-game losing streak.
"Obviously, that team (Orlando) didn't have a lot of their guys," Rockets Head Coach Stephen Silas mentioned after the game. "It was difficult for them."
Houston's 42 point margin of victory marks the eighth-biggest win in franchise history. The Rockets never beat the Magic by more than 24 points in the all-time series prior to tonight.
The first quarter featured three ties in the first 4 plus minutes. The Rockets trailed 12-11 before P.J. Tucker sank a three-point shot for a 14-12 Houston lead. Houston outscored Orlando 21-5 to close the quarter and lead 32-17. Orlando never recovered.
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Houston outscored Orlando 30-16 in the second quarter and led by as much as 32 points in the quarter. Ben McLemore, in his first regular season game this season, sank all three of his three-point shots in the 2nd period for a team-high 9 points in the quarter.
"I just got right back to my craft," McLemore said after the game."
Coach Stephen Silas described McLemore as "stone cold shooter from the perimeter."
Seven different Rockets combined for Houston's 30 points in the quarter.
The Rockets led the Magic 62-33 at halftime. James Harden and Christian Wood each scored 10 points in the half. Ten different Rockets players saw game action in the first half and all 10 scored at least 2 points.
Houston made 11 of 23 three-point field goal attempts in the first half and 24 of 45 field goals (53.3 fg%). Orlando made 12 field goals total in the first half.
Houston led by as much as 38 in the third quarter and 42 in the fourth quarter.
Christian Wood scored 22 points to lead the Rockets. C-Wood also had a career-high tying 15 rebounds. Wood has scored 20 or more points in each of his six games played this season, marking the longest single season streak of his career. Wood has four double-doubles this season, including three over his past four games played. C-Wood has also recorded 2+ blocks in four of his past five games played.
The Rockets will face the Los Angeles Lakers in back-to-back home games: Sunday, January 10, at 6 p.m. and Tuesday, January 12, at 7 p.m. Central Time.
James Harden had 15 points and 13 assists with just 2 turnovers. He has recorded 10 or more assists in three straight games for the first time since a five-game span from 3/11-3/19/19. Harden has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.38 over the past three games. Harden has scored below 20 points in consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 24 to Jan. 29, 2020.
Ben McLemore made his season debut Friday night and had 15 points while shooting 5-of-5 from 3-point range in 16 minutes of play. McLemore is the fourth player in NBA history to have hit at least 5 three-pointers without a miss while playing 16 or fewer minutes.
Houston had a season-high 34 assists Friday night after recording fewer than 20 in each of the previous three games. The Rockets have tallied 25+ assists in four of the seven games this season after doing so 18 times in 72 games in 2019-20.
The Rockets hit a season-high 22 3-pointers on a season-best 46.8% shooting Friday night after recording season lows of 8 threes made on 26.7% shooting at Indiana on January 6. Houston has now hit 20 or threes made per game 52 times in franchise history; no other team has done so more than 19 times.
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