The Rockets love to make it tough on us fans. It took several close calls late in the game but the Rockets were able to put away the Knicks 109-106 in a game that miraculously didn’t go to overtime.
The Rockets took an 8-point lead with under 5 minutes to go after a Harden swished three, but the Knicks would keep pushing. Carmelo Anthony hit several mid-range jumpers and an Andrea Bargnani three kept the Knicks in the game with under a minute left.
With 30+ seconds left and the Rockets up three with the ball, the Knicks decided to let Harden try and finish them off. Harden and Lin would not be able to get the ball off and ran into a shot clock violation with 5.8 seconds to go.
On the ensuing inbounds play, Carmelo would receive the ball and Harden went for the foul. Referee Scott Foster correctly blew the whistle on the first Harden hack. Anthony continued his motion through the hack and chucked up a three that went through the hoop. Anthony and the Knicks begged for the and-one but Foster said Anthony would go to the line to shoot just two free throws as the foul was before the shot. Anthony hit both free throws to decrease the Rockets lead to one.
After not being able to successfully put the ball in play after one inbounds play, Parsons was able to hit Harden the next time which put him at the line. Harden hit both free throws to give the Rockets a three-point lead with just under three second remaining. The Knicks had no timeouts and a desperation half court heave would go long to give the Rockets a three-point win.
The Rockets were up 53-52 at the half but they didn’t take the lead in the way many expected. Without Tyson Chandler, the Knicks have many problems down low and Dwight Howard was supposed to take advantage of their lack of an inside presence. Instead, Andrea Bargnani shockingly held Howard to just one field goal made in 34 minutes on the court. With Howard ineffective down low (7 points, 15 rebounds, 4 blocks), the Rockets turned to James Harden, Jeremy Lin, and Chandler Parsons for the bulk of their scoring.
After sitting out last night’s loss to the 76′ers, Harden returned in a big way putting up 36 points and 9 boards. Parsons was 7-11 (2-5 from three) for 22 points including several dunks. Lin struggled early but was a big factor in the fourth quarter and finished with 21 points in his return to Madison Square Garden.
The Rockets head home to face the Nuggets on Saturday at 7:00 PM. The game can be seen on CSN Houston.