HOUSTON: Christian Wood scored 22 points and tied a career high with 15 rebounds to lead the Houston Rockets to a 132-90 rout of the short-handed Orlando Magic on Friday night (Saturday in Manila).
Houston was up by 29 at halftime and had extended the lead to 81-43 after consecutive 3-pointers by John Wall and P.J. Tucker with about five minutes left in the third.
“Obviously, they were very decimated… so we took advantage,” Houston coach Stephen Silas said. “But we really played hard and it seems like our concepts are really sinking in more.”
The Magic looked nothing like the team that opened the season 6-2. Aaron Gordon sat out with a left hamstring injury in the team’s first game since guard Markelle Fultz sustained a season-ending knee injury in a win over Cleveland on Wednesday night.
A disgusted coach Steve Clifford spoke for only about 30 seconds and left without taking any questions. But it was plenty long enough to get his point across.
“This game had a lot more to do with a lack of readiness and a lack of professionalism and a lack of effort than it did talent,” he said.
He talked about the numerous mistakes his team made before punctuating his remarks with: “So that’s your story, nothing else mattered,” and leaving the podium.
A 3-pointer by James Harden ended his night and left the Rockets ahead by 36 after three, and a 3 by Ben McLemore extended the lead to 103-63 with about nine minutes remaining.
Houston’s starters didn’t play in the fourth quarter and Silas cleared the bench with about five minutes left and his team up 117-78.
The Rockets had six players score at least 10 points on a night they made a season-high 22 3s to snap a two-game skid.
Nikola Vucevic had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Magic. Harden had 15 points and 13 assists, and Tucker added 15 points.
Magic: Clifford said Gordon would return on Saturday night. … Orlando made just 8 of 29 3-pointers.
Rockets: Danuel House missed his third straight game with back spasms. … Houston had 34 assists.
Ben is back
McLemore made his season debut on Friday after missing the beginning of the season in quarantine for Covid-19 reasons. He scored 15 points on 5-for-5 3-point shooting. Silas said he wasn’t sure what to expect from McLemore but is excited to see what he’ll bring to the team this season after Friday’s performance.
“It just gives us a stone-cold shooter on the perimeter,” Silas said. “As you can see from our previous games, we need that on the floor.”
Magic: Visit Dallas on Saturday and return home to play the Bucks before embarking on a six-game road trip.
Rockets: Host the Lakers on Sunday and Tuesday before going on the road for a pair of games against the Spurs.
Thunder end Knicks’ 3-game win streak
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists; Hamidou Diallo scored a season-high 23 points; and the Oklahoma City Thunder overcame an ugly start to beat the New York Knicks 101-89 on Friday night.
Al Horford added 15 points and was practically the only offense early for the Thunder, who got almost nothing to fall at the start but got better as the game went along and improved to 4-1 on the road.
“We just stick with it, no matter what it is,” Gilgeous-Alexander said.
RJ Barrett scored 19 points for the Knicks, who had their three-game winning streak snapped. Julius Randle, scoreless in the first half, finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.
“From top to bottom, we just didn’t get it done,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We’re capable of doing much better than we did.”
Oklahoma City came in scoring an NBA-low 102 points per game, the Knicks were 28th at 104.4, and even those paltry stats seemed way out of reach the way the game started.
The Thunder shot 20.8 percent in the first quarter — Horford had three of their five baskets — and trailed 24-15. But the Knicks managed just 18 in the second quarter and the game was tied at 42 at the half.
“I just felt like today on both ends of the floor, for whatever reason, we just didn’t play for each other and it happens,” Randle said. “You go through that, but the biggest thing is that we nip it in the bud right now and take care of it right now and get back to playing unselfish, playing for each other.”
Coach Mark Daigneault praised Diallo and the reserves who helped get the Thunder going after the starters were cold at the start.
“They really amped it up and then we carried it through the rest of the game,” Daigneault said.
Gilgeous-Alexander was 6 of 7 for 12 points in the third quarter, when the Thunder opened a nine-point lead before Austin Rivers beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer that cut it to 69-63. The Thunder broke it open with an 11-3 spurt in the fourth, with Gilgeous-Alexander’s 3-pointer making it 89-76.
Thunder: Diallo had 11 rebounds. … Daigneault coached his first NBA game at Madison Square Garden but has been part of victories in the arena. He was a student manager at UConn from 2003-07 under Jim Calhoun, winning one Big East tournament title.
Knicks: The Knicks have lost the last four meetings. … Elfrid Payton scored 16 points but shot 4 for 16.
Thibodeau said the Knicks hoped Taj Gibson, signed Thursday, would be cleared to begin playing next week. The veteran forward played for Thibodeau in both Chicago and Minnesota and spent last season with the Knicks, which made him a good fit for a short-handed frontcourt.
“I think his career speaks for itself and obviously he embodies all the things that we believe in,” Thibodeau said.
Daigneault has on his staff Mike Miller, who finished last season as the Knicks’ interim head coach after David Fizdale was fired. He previously coached the Knicks’ team in the G League, where the coaches became acquainted.
“He did a great job here,” Daigneault said. “He left a great impression here. Everyone here had great things to say about him. He’s an old-school worker but a new-school thinker.”
Thunder: Visit Brooklyn on Sunday.
Knicks: Host Denver on Sunday.