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Friday, January 3, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Rockets 102, Knicks 100

By Ian Begley



Simply put, the Houston Rockets own the Knicks right now.

The latest evidence to support that theory came on Friday night after the Rockets walked off their home floor with a 102-100 win. Houston has won nine straight against the Knicks at home and 17 of 18 overall.

This latest Knicks loss had to be tough for Mike Woodson to swallow. It looked as if his team was on the verge of a late comeback in the final minutes, but some questionable decision-making down the stretch doomed New York (10-22).

Comeback falls short: The Knicks trailed the Rockets 100-95 after James Harden's deep jumper with 2:25 to play.

Iman Shumpert, who suddenly is one of the Knicks' top offensive threats, pulled New York within two on a 3-pointer with 1:27 to go. Tyson Chandler tied it with two free throws shortly thereafter.

After a Rockets miss, the Knicks had a chance to get the final shot, but J.R. Smith inexplicably took a 3-pointer with 19 seconds to go -- the latest example of low-basketball IQ from Woodson's team.

Aaron Brooks knocked down two free throws on the other end, and the Knicks couldn't convert on their final possession -- which included two missed shots and no field goal attempts from Carmelo Anthony.

Shump! Shumpert continues to show signs that he's breaking out of a season-long shooting slump.

The third-year guard had 26 points on Friday on 9-for-14 shooting. He went 6-for-6 from beyond the arc. Shumpert added five assists and four rebounds. This is one night after he went off for 27 points on 10-for-13 shooting against San Antonio.

Shumpert entered the calendar year shooting 36 percent from the floor and 30 percent from beyond the arc.


Melo banged up?
Carmelo Anthony appeared to reinjure his left ankle in the first half of Friday's game. He was limping around and walking cautiously for stretches of the game. Anthony recently missed three games due to the ankle ailment and said that he'd be playing through pain, so this is something to monitor.

Carmelo finished with 25 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists. This was the first game he's played this season where he hadn't at least tied for the team lead in scoring.

Not much from J.R.: Carmelo and Shumpert didn't have much help from their teammates. J.R. Smith had nine points in 31 minutes. He missed 10 of his 13 shots. Andrea Bargnani had seven points and eight rebounds in 30 minutes.

All Knicks not named Anthony or Shumpert shot a combined 27 percent from the field.

Harden red hot: Harden led the Rockets with a game-high 37 points. He made 5 of 10 3-pointers. Ex-Knick Jeremy Lin added 14. Dwight Howard had 15 points and seven rebounds.

Lin is 4-0 against the Knicks.

What's next: The Knicks will take on the Mavericks on Sunday in Dallas to complete their three-game road trip through Texas.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.