NBA: Misfiring Houston Rockets beat Detroit Pistons for 7th straight win

James Harden dribbles the ball during the second quarter against the Detroit Pistons on March 22, 2018.
James Harden dribbles the ball during the second quarter against the Detroit Pistons on March 22, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - James Harden scored 10 of his 21 points in overtime and the Houston Rockets survived a miserable shooting effort and beat the Detroit Pistons, 100-96, on Thursday (March 22) at the Toyota Centre in Houston.

The Rockets extended their winning streak to seven games despite missing 39 of 51 three-pointers, 10 of 28 free throws and shooting 35.4 per cent overall. Harden finished four for 20 from the floor and misfired on all eight of his threes, yet found enough late offence to carry Houston to victory.

Eric Gordon, filling in for the injured Chris Paul (hamstring), led the Rockets with 22 points.

Blake Griffin had 21 points and 10 rebounds while Andre Drummond also recorded a double-double for the Pistons with 17 points and 20 rebounds. Detroit shot 10 of 19 from the free-throw line and six for 38 (15.8 per cent) from behind the arc.

After the teams shot a combined 15 for 42 in an unsightly third quarter, the Rockets appeared to finally discover a rhythm midway through the fourth when Gordon made consecutive layups and Trevor Ariza drilled a second-chance three-pointer for an 86-77 lead with 4min 53sec left.

But the Pistons responded with an 11-0 run, snapped by a goal-tending call that credited P.J. Tucker with the game-tying basket with 29.9 seconds left.

For a second consecutive game, Houston suffered through a terrible start from the perimeter, missing 10 of 12 threes in the first quarter while sinking into an eight-point hole.

Yet despite that, the Pistons failed to forge a significant lead, with Gordon converting a pair of late driving layups that pulled Houston to within 27-21 after one period.

The Rockets managed to hang on until the intermission, even with Harden recording his first field goal with 59.1 seconds remaining in the half. Houston hit three three-pointers and an added a three-point play over the ensuing six minutes to keep the margin close, and when Harden converted two free throws with 1.2 seconds left, the Rockets were within 50-48 at the break.

Detroit shot 57.5 per cent in the first half yet missed 11 of 12 three-pointers. And, with 12 turnovers, the Pistons allowed Houston to attempt nine additional shots by the break.