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    Knicks take control early, send Rockets to fifth consecutive loss

    Feb 14, 2021
    PHOTO: AP

    NEW YORK — Julius Randle and rookie Immanuel Quickley each scored 22 points and the New York Knicks sent the Houston Rockets to a season-high fifth straight loss with a 121-99 victory Saturday night (Sunday, Manila time).

    Derrick Rose added 16 points for the Knicks, who had no problem in their first game after losing starting center Mitchell Robinson to a broken right hand Friday night in a victory at Washington.

    Their defense remained sturdy and they put six players in double figures while shooting 52% from the field.

    "Played the right way tonight and we've been doing that pretty much all season," said Nerlens Noel, who started in place of Robinson. "So, games like these when you have to make the extra pass, guys been doing that."

    John Wall scored 26 points and Eric Gordon had 24 for the Rockets, who are 0-5 since Christian Wood sprained his right ankle and also played without Victor Oladipo because of a sprained right foot.

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    They had been limited to just 98.8 points per game during the previous four losses and things didn't get any easier against the team that is allowing the fewest points per game in the NBA.

    "I thought the unselfishness was important and then we had a number of guys just step up and make shots," Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. "But overall, the defense I thought was very, very good and so we have to count on that."

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    Houston was 8 for 43 (18.6%) from 3-point range and fell to 0-5 this season when being held below 100 points.

    "It is a deflating thing when you have shots that you feel like you should make and there's a lot of pressure being put on you on the defensive end," Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. "You feel like you need to make those shots and then having that, like, tension going along with needing to make those isn't a good recipe for making shots."

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    An 11-2 surge in the opening minutes of the second quarter extended the Knicks' three-point lead to 41-29, and New York took a 63-47 advantage to the half after Randle beat the buzzer with a jumper.

    The Rockets went just 2 for 18 from 3-point range in the first half.

    "We're just not getting it done," Gordon said.

    Wall was the catalyst during a good stretch that helped Houston cut an 18-point deficit to 79-74, but Quickley hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final 1:48 as the Knicks had it back up to 87-75 going to the fourth.

    TIP-INS

    Rockets: Silas said Oladipo is traveling with the Rockets on their three-game road trip, but had no clarity on a possible return for the guard. ... Ray Spalding scored two points in his Rockets' debut after being called up from the Rockets' NBA G League affiliate Friday and signed to a two-way contract.

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    Knicks: Noel had 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting. ... The Knicks said Robinson was evaluated by their medical staff Saturday and surgery was recommended. He will have a surgical consultation early next week before a further update. He watched the game from the bench with his hand heavily wrapped.

    TUCKER'S TOUGHNESS

    Listed as questionable before the game with a bruised left thigh, P.J. Tucker started for the Rockets and has played in 267 consecutive games. The forward has played more games than anyone in the league dating to the 2012-13 season.

    "To have the steadiness, the professionalism, I mean the grit, the toughness, all of those things wrapped up in one P.J., it means a lot to have a guy who's not going to miss a game based on maybe a little injury," Silas said. "But some of it is luck as well. He just doesn't get hurt like some guys."

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    UP NEXT

    Rockets: Visit Washington on Monday in Wall's return to his former team.

    Knicks: Host Atlanta on Monday.

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    PHOTO: AP
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