Rockets shut down Harris, Carter to top NetsDec 23, 2008 - 5:38 AM By Carl Dispoto PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Facing one of the hottest point guards in the league, Aaron Brooks made his case to become a permanent member of the Houston Rockets' starting lineup.
Brooks matched his career high with 22 points as the Rockets extended their winning streak to a season-high four games with a 114-91 victory over the New Jersey Nets.
Brooks started his fourth consecutive game in place of injured starter Rafer Alston, who is nursing a strained left hamstring. The second-year point guard scored 46 points combined in his first three starts and thoroughly outplayed Nets star Devin Harris on Monday, making 8-of-14 shots from the floor and 4-of-7 3-pointers.
"I just got comfortable. I knew it was only going to be a couple games but wanted to make the best of the opportunity and make sure that we didn't have any letdowns," Brooks said. "I had some good looks out there. Facing (Harris) wasn't any extra motivation, I just went out there and played."
"I think it's a matter of him just getting confidence," Houston coach Rick Adelman said. "Everyone on the team knows that he can score and shoot. He's got a lot of ability offensively. The more confidence he gets, the better he's going to be."
Brooks has made 22-of-45 shots as a starter, including 11-of-23 3-pointers, to go with 18 rebounds and 22 assists. Alston is expected to return for Tuesday's game at Cleveland and Brooks will likely be coming off the bench.
"I did my job," Brooks said. "I'm a backup point guard and when the starter goes down you want to make sure the offense doesn't miss a beat. With my performance, I showed that if something happens, I'm able to step up and play that position."
It isn't often that a team can shut down both Harris and Vince Carter, but the Rockets were up to the task on Monday. The Rockets' stifling defense limited the Nets' star backcourt combo to just 20 points on 7-of-24 shooting - as Harris, a potential All-Star, was upstaged by his counterpart at the point.
Yao Ming dominated the second half en route to 24 points and 16 rebounds while facing rookie Brook Lopez and countryman Yi Jianlian in a game that was expected to draw as many as 200 million viewers in China. It was Yao's 10th double-double in his last 15 games.
Carl Landry scored 13 points, Tracy McGrady added 12 and Luis Scola 11 as the Rockets shot a season-high 58 percent (43-of-74) from the floor.
"We had very little defensive energy," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "We got outplayed."
The Nets have lost six of their last eight games overall and are just 5-10 at the IZOD Center this season.
Houston never trailed after getting out to a scorching start behind Brooks, who scored 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the period. Brooks had seven - including a rare four-point play - and McGrady added six and three assists during a key 13-2 spurt for the Rockets, who made 11-of-19 shots in the quarter en route to a 29-13 advantage.
Harris - averaging better than 24 points per game - was held scoreless as the Nets managed a season-low 13 points on 6-of-25 shooting. He missed all four of his shots attempts and left after picking up his second foul less than six minutes into the game.
"They came out with more energy," said Harris, who finished with 10 points. "We looked dead tonight."
"The start really hurt us," Carter said. "When playing good teams, you definitely have to get off to a good start in order to stay in the game."
Houston continued its onslaught by making 11-of-19 shots in the second quarter. Yao scored eight points in the period as Houston built its lead to as many as 23.
The Rockets shot a season-high 58 percent (22-of-38) in a dominant first half, including 7-of-11 from 3-point range. They had a 61-40 halftime cushion after Shane Battier buried a 3-pointer over Carter in the final seconds of the half.
Yao did the majority of his damage after halftime, scoring 14 points to keep Houston comfortably ahead. The Rockets took their largest lead at 110-83 on Brent Barry's 3-pointer with 2 1/2 minutes to go.
Keyon Dooling scored 17 points off the bench to lead the Nets while Carter also had just 10.
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