The Houston Rockets cruised past the cold-shooting Cleveland Cavaliers 116-78 on Friday night at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, with Jeremy Lin scoring four points and six assists for Houston in just 20 minutes of play.
The Houston Rockets will then confront their archrivals, the San Antonio Spurs, the Indiana Pacers, the Memphis Grizzlies and the Los Angeles Clippers, moving toward the playoffs.
The Cavaliers were routed because star point guard Kyrie Irving missed the game. Irving, who has been named the recipient of the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy as the 2011-2012 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year Award, reportedly may miss the rest of the season with a left shoulder sprain after missing six games for the Cavaliers. Irving, 20, is averaging 23 points, 5.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game this season.
At the beginning of the game on Friday night, members of both teams had high hit rates, with the Rockets taking only a 28-25 lead over Cavaliers in the first quarter.
However, the Rockets reached 56.4 percent shooting in the first half of the game, with 42.86 percent from three-point range (six of 14). Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden and forward Carlos Delfino sank back-to-back three-pointers later as the Rockets stretched their lead into double digits.
In addition to Harden, the Rockets’ Omer Asik, Donatas Motiejunas, Chandler parsons, Patrick Beverley, James Anderson and Thomas Robinson all contributed more than 10 points, giving an early victory for the Rockets.
Shaun Livingston outperformed his teammates by scoring 14 points for the Cavaliers, who had dropped five in a row and nine of their last 11 games. Cleveland failed to reach 20 points in each of the last three quarters and shot 36 percent (31 of 86) for the game. Houston also had a 54-32 edge in rebounds.
Meanwhile, the Miami Heat extended their winning streak to 25 games after pulling away in the second half to beat the Detroit Pistons 103-89 on Friday.
LeBron James scored 29 points, Dwyane Wade added 19 and Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers scored 11 each for Miami, who shook off yet another slow start to move within eight wins of equaling the 1971-1972 Los Angeles Lakers for the longest winning streak in NBA history. The Heat also won at home for the 16th straight time.
James added eight rebounds and eight assists for Miami, whose magic number for clinching the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference is now three.
Greg Monroe finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds for Detroit, who dropped their 10th straight game.
Washington’s Trevor Ariza hit a career-high seven three-pointers on his way to 25 points and John Wall added 24 as the Wizards rallied from an 18-point second-half deficit to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 103-100 in Kobe Bryant’s return from a two-game absence with a sprained left ankle.
Wall had 16 assists, and Nene scored 15 points for the Wizards, who won their second straight while improving to 7-26 on the road.
Bryant finished with 21 points and 11 assists, and Dwight Howard had 20 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers.
In Orlando, Florida, Kevin Durant scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and Russell Westbrook had 19 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder ended a two-game losing streak by beating the Magic 97-89.
Maurice Harkless scored 25 points and Jameer Nelson had 16 for Orlando, who lost their sixth straight.
New York clinched a playoff berth as Carmelo Anthony scored 37 points and Kenyon Martin added 19 points and 11 rebounds in the Knicks’ 99-94 win over the Toronto Raptors.
The defeat was a double blow for Toronto, who lost for the 11th time in 15 games and saw forward Rudy Gay leave in the second with a sore back. He did not return.
Alan Anderson scored a career-high 35 points, DeMar DeRozan had 18 and Jonas Valanciunas 10 for the Raptors.
San Antonio’s Tony Parker had 22 points in his return from an eight-game absence and Tim Duncan added 19 points and 16 rebounds as the Spurs sent the Utah Jazz to their third straight loss 104-97.
Kawhi Leonard added 21 points, including five in overtime, and Danny Green had 15 points for San Antonio, who remain 2.5 games ahead of Oklahoma City in the West.
Mo Williams scored 23 points, Al Jefferson had 18 and Alec Burks 14 for Utah.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 22 points, Shawn Marion had a double-double in his return from a calf injury to spoil Jason Terry’s return to Dallas with a 104-94 win over the Boston Celtics.
Terry scored eight in his first game in Dallas since leaving for Boston in free agency. The Portland Trail Blazers beat the Atlanta Hawks 104-93 for their second road win in as many nights and the Indiana Pacers downed the Milwaukee Bucks 102-78 for their third straight win.
In other games, the New Orleans Hornets beat the Memphis Grizzlies 90-83 and the Minnesota Timberwolves were 117-86 winners over the Phoenix Suns.