Howard dominates paint as Rockets roll over Pistons; Harden hurt
Dwight Howard had 35 points and 19 rebounds, leading the short-handed Houston Rockets to a 114-97 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night.
In one of his best games since joining the Rockets in the offseason, Howard dominated Andre Drummond, Detroit’s promising 20-year-old big man, and helped Houston control the game despite the absence of star guard James Harden, who was out with a sprained right ankle.
The Rockets also were without Jeremy Lin, who has been bothered by back spasms, and they lost guard Patrick Beverley to a fractured right hand.
Josh Smith scored 19 points for the Pistons.
It was the most points Howard has scored as a member of the Rockets. He went 13 of 18 from the field.
Detroit blew a 20-point lead and allowed 72 points in the second half of Friday’s loss to Charlotte. The Pistons again struggled defensively against Houston, especially against Howard.
Drummond looked overmatched as Howard scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the first half. Houston led 61-53 at the half and 86-71 after three quarters.
Drummond’s tip-in made it 92-82, but Howard responded by simply backing Drummond down again for two more points. Francisco Garcia’s 3-pointer put the Rockets up 97-84.
The Pistons shot 1 of 12 from 3-point range, and they also missed a number of shots inside from point-blank range. Houston lost Friday at Indiana in a 114-81 rout, but the Rockets overcame all their injury problems against Detroit.
Chandler Parsons scored 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting for Houston, and Garcia added 16 points starting in place of Harden. Omri Casspi and Aaron Brooks had seven assists each off the bench.
Drummond finished with nine points, although he blocked four shots. Brandon Jennings had eight points and 10 assists for Detroit before being ejected with 2:10 to go. After a foul call, a clearly frustrated Jennings tossed the ball away for one technical foul, then earned another for arguing.
NOTES: Detroit was averaging an NBA-best 51.5 points in the paint coming into the game, while Houston was third at 49.2. The teams finished tied at 62 in that department Saturday. … The Rockets began the fourth quarter by going 8 of 9 from the field. … Howard scored 33 points in a Nov. 20 loss at Dallas. … Beverley scored 10 points in the first half but didn’t play in the second.