Rockets 'sluggish' in win over Magic

Rockets 'sluggish' in win over Magic
October 16, 2013, 10:30 pm
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Highlights: Rockets take down Magic

(USA Today Images)

The Rockets are done with their trip to Asia. But the trip isn't done with them.

Playing in their first game since flying home from Taiwan on Sunday night, the Rockets looked sluggish, perhaps still dealing with some jetlag, but pulled out a 108-104 win over the Orlando Magic in the fourth preseason game.

“I thought we were a little sluggish but I’m happy we got the win,” said Dwight Howard, who scored eight points to go with four rebounds and three blocks in 18 minutes. “It’s a lot of areas we need to improve in, especially, we’re gonna have four games in, let’s say, six nights. We have to be able to play through it and this was a good test for us. We just have to learn from our mistakes and keep playing.”

James Harden had a great first half, scoring 21 points to go with five rebounds and three assists. He was finished after playing 18 minutes. Harden has now scored 21 points in each of the team’s preseason games.

Jeremy Lin was dealing with an illness and was sent home and Chandler Parsons was given the night off.

“Knowing where we’ve been over the last few days, yeah, I knew we’d be tired,” head coach Kevin McHale said. “We had some guys out there that were just not as sharp as they need to be. But we had segments where we did good stuff.”

Donatas Motiejunas scored 14 points off the bench and Terrence Jones scored 10. Francisco Garcia started and scored 11, while Patrick Beverley scored 13 and had nine rebounds.

With Garcia and Omri Casspi in the starting lineup, the Rockets took 36 three-pointers and made 15. They shot 35-for-84 from the field.

The Rockets took an 82-73 lead into the fourth quarter but the deep reserves almost lost the game. The lead was cut to two points very late in the game, but they were able to pull it out as the starters watched anxiously.

The Rockets next game is at home on Monday night against the Mavericks. By then, the trip shouldn’t be affecting them anymore.  

“We just need to muddy through this game,” McHale said. “I think the next few days of practice will be good for us. Eventually, we’ll all get back on Central Time.”