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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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Fred VanVleet's season-high 37 points leads Rockets over Magic, 118-106

POSTED: April 09, 2024 -- 11:25 p.m. CT

HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- The Houston Rockets snapped a 5-game losing streak Tuesday night with a 118-106 home win over the Orlando Magic. With the win tonight, the Rockets split the season series vs. the Magic. Houston snaps a season-high five-game losing streak while Orlando is 1-2 over its past three games after winning three straight prior.

Houston Rockets starting point guard Fred VanVleet scored a season-high 37 points to lead the Rockets. VanVleet added a season-high tying 8 rebounds and 6 assists.

After Sunday's overtime loss to the Dallas Mavericks, VanVleet said Tuesday's win over Orlando was a good bounce back for the Rockets.

"It was really good. I mean, obviously, that was a tough loss," VanVleet said. "That one hurt. But, again, just the last week or so, after our streak trying to find it back again; so, it was good to get a win tonight."

Houston (39-40) trailed Orlando (46-33) 10-5 less than 3 minutes into the game; and, Ime Udoka, Rockets' Head Coach, called a quick timeout because he didn't like what he saw on the court.

"It was just a reset and wake-up call," Coach Udoka acknowledged after the game. "It was 10 to 5 at the time; and, all 10 of their points were off of mistakes: 2 threes and 2 baskets. Some miscommunication and paying attention to detail scouting wise.

"So, I just wanted to wake them up there; and, I didn't say a word to them. I just called a play; and, that's all it took. They understood what it was."

After that timeout, Houston responded with a 12-2 run. VanVleet scored 6 points in the run.

VanVleet added 9 more points to finish with 15 points in the first quarter on 6 for 8 field goal shooting -- 2 for 3 from three.

Houston led Orlando, 36-25 after the first 12 minutes.

Jabari Smith Jr. scored 8 points in the first period.

The Magic cut Houston's lead to 4 twice early in the second quarter; however, Smith and veteran Jeff Green each scored 6 points in the second period. Seven different players scored for the Rockets in the second 12 minutes as Houston's lead ballooned to 16 three different times.

The Rockets took a 63-51 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The Rockets led by as much as 19 points three separate times in the third quarter. Orlando cut Houston's lead to 12 (90-78) with 3:35 remaining in the quarter; however, Rockets' rookie Cam Whitmore scored a driving floater; VanVleet swished a three-pointer; and, Smith Jr hit a 12-foot pull up jumper for a 97-82 Rockets' lead after 3 quarters.

Orlando scored the first 9 points of the 4th quarter to cut Houston's lead to 6 (97-91) before VanVleet hit a three-pointer to end Houston's scoring drought and increase Houston's lead to 100-91 with 8:19 on the game clock.

The Magic did not closer than 6 (103-97) the rest of the ball game.

Jabari Smith Jr. finished the game with 23 points, 7 rebounds, a season-high tying 5 assists and 2 blocks.

"I still remember when I first got drafted," Smith Jr. said after the game. "It just goes so fast and can't take any of it for granted. I'm blessed. Just happy to be here."

Houston finishes the season with a 27-14 mark at Toyota Center. The Rockets went 14-27 at home in 2022-23. Houston recorded a sellout tonight, marking its 28th in 41 home games this season.

"Good to give the fans one last game (win) at home," Coach Udoka commented after the game.


Jabari Smith Jr. had a total of 20 points in his first three career games vs. Orlando. Over his past 17 games played, Smith is averaging 16.1 ppg on 48.0% shooting, including 41.8% from 3-point range, after averaging 11.8 ppg on 36.9% shooting (27.7% 3FGs) the 15 games prior.


The Rockets' next game is Thursday, April 11, on the road, against the Utah Jazz. Tip is set for 8 p.m. Central Time.

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