For the second consecutive game, the Houston Rockets were without Dwight Howard in the lineup, and for the second straight occasion, they left an opposing arena with a loss. The Brooklyn Nets, led by a big night from Joe Johnson, put on an offensive show at times, and in the end, they held serve for a 105-96 home win.
In the absence of Howard, the Rockets actually received the best statistical night from much-maligned backup center Omer Asik, but even that wasn’t enough to overcome the hole in the lineup. Asik snatched a ridiculous 23 rebounds to go along with 12 points on just 8 shots, but offensively, the Rockets simply couldn’t generate anything in the way of consistency, finishing by shooting just 38% from the field and 10 for 35 from 3-point range.
The aforementioned Joe Johnson led the way for Brooklyn, as the former Atlanta Hawk scored 32 points on 13 for 21 shooting, including a very solid 4 for 8 from beyond the arc. In addition to Johnson, the Nets shot 53% as a team (further illustrating the impact of Howard’s absence), and Brooklyn placed six total players in double-figures, surrounding Johnson with some steadiness offensively.
With both teams heading for sure-fire playoff bids, this one was about positioning more than anything else, but if the Rockets have to play without Howard for long, they could be in considerable trouble.