NEW YORK (AP) – Rookie guard RJ Barrett tied his season high with 27 points and the New York Knicks held on to beat Houston 125-123 on Monday night, snapping the Rockets’ six-game winning streak.
The Knicks pummeled the small-ball Rockets on the boards and in the paint to make a successful first impression in front of Leon Rose, the longtime player agent who was hired Monday as team president.
Julius Randle added 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Knicks, who held on after building a 21-point lead. They ended a nine-game home losing streak against the Rockets with their first victory over them since Jan. 26, 2009 – when Houston coach Mike D’Antoni was on the other sideline.
James Harden had 35 points and eight assists for the Rockets. Russell Westbrook had 24 points and nine rebounds but missed a pull-up jumper on Houston’s final attempt.
Harden missed his first eight tries from beyond the arc to help New York build its big lead. He made his last two of the third quarter and then the Rockets got all the way within one in the final minute of the fourth quarter.
But the Rockets, playing without a traditional center, couldn’t overcome the Knicks’ whopping 65-34 rebounding advantage, or New York’s 64-36 edge in points in the paint.
Rockets: Westbrook has scored 20 or more points in 31 straight games. … Robert Covington and Danuel House Jr. each scored 20 points.
Knicks: New York remained without guards Reggie Bullock (illness) and Dennis Smith Jr. (concussion). … The Knicks played a tribute video in the first quarter to recognize MSG Network play-by-by announcer Mike Breen on his selection for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Breen, who has also called the last 14 NBA Finals on ABC, was announced during the All-Star break as winner of the Curt Gowdy Media Award.
Rose met with the players and staff Monday at their game-day shootaround at the training facility. Interim coach Mike Miller said the conversations were mostly introductory, without providing details of any future plans. Miller added that he was focused on the present and didn’t need any assurances about his own future with the organization.
D’Antoni was chosen Western Conference coach of the month for February after leading the Rockets to a 9-2 record. Asked why he was such a good coach in February, he joked: â€œBecause itâ€™s 29 days.â€
â€œMost coaches want to be coach of the month in June,â€ he added, â€œbut Iâ€™ll take February.â€
Rockets: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday.
Knicks: Host the Utah Jazz on Wednesday.
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