Rockets escape from New York with win

Rockets escape from New York with win
November 14, 2013, 11:00 pm
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Playing games on conseuctive nights is just part of the NBA. The Houston Rockets were slated for 20 such sets of games and have now completed the first three sets. After their hard-fought 109-106 win at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night, the Rockets are surprisingly undefeated on the second night of the back-to-back and 4-2 overall.

Last season they had 21 sets of back-to-back games and on the second night, they weren't very successful, winning just six of 21 games.

There were several reasons why they got the best of the Knicks on Thursday night to win their eighth straight against New York and their 16th in the last 17 meetings.

The biggest one was probably the most unlikely one. They shot their free throws brilliantly. Heading into the night, Houston ranked last in the NBA in free throw percentage at a dismal 67.5 percent.

They made a remarkable 38 free throws on 44 attempts (86.5 percent). They dropped 15-of-18 in the fourth quarter to hold off the Knicks. They also got a couple of gift trips to the line in the fourth quarter.

Houston was up just 102-100 with 2:18 remaining in the game, when James Harden fired up a deep 3-pointer. Knicks guard Raymond Felton fouled Harden on the shot giving the Rockets three free throws. Harden made two of the three.

Just 30 seconds later, Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony went with the intentional foul on Dwight Howard. But with under two minutes remaining, that intentional foul away from the ball, results in a free throw for the Rockets and the ball. Harden shot and made the freebie.

Then after Harden missed a long jumper on the ensuing possession, Howard grabbed the offensive rebound, his fifth of the game, and was fouled. Howard made both free throws. He was 5-of-8 at the line on the night and grabbed a game high 15 rebounds.

Even though the Rockets had shot clock violations for turnover number seventeen and eighteen in the game, they got two more clutch free throws from Harden with 2.9 seconds left to seal the victory.

Houston flirted with seeing a similar result to several of their previous games, which had their opponents drilling a 3-pointer in the waning seconds to either win the game or force overtime. But this time, the Knicks could only get a running 3-pointer from J.R. Smith from near half-court. The shot wasn't close.

Free throws have been their undoing several times already, but tonight, their success at the line, led them to victory.