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Rockets send Knicks to 14th loss in row

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NEW YORK — While the Houston Rockets padded their offensive stats, the New York Knicks stumbled to another low.

The Rockets shot a season-best 53.2 percent from the floor and posted a season-high points total in a 120-96 win over the Knicks on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

Each member of the Rockets’ starting lineup all scored in double figures for the third time this season.

The Knicks dropped their 14th consecutive game and their 24th in the past 25. The skid is the longest in a single season in franchise history. The Knicks’ last win was December 12, 101-95 at Boston. None of the New York starters scored in double figures Thursday.

Guard James Harden, the league’s leading scorer, paced Houston (25-11) with 25 points. Forward Trevor Ariza dropped in 18 points, and forward Donatas Motiejunas added 17 points. Point guard Patrick Beverley scored 14, and center Dwight Howard tossed in 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

“(The starters) played well together as a group,” said Houston coach Kevin McHale, who also saw two of his reserves score at least 10 points. “We were able to move the ball pretty well. We had good spacing. What we tried to get was the pass-pass combinations.

“We had good open looks and we’ll take them, and then James was fantastic playing downhill. He got us going.”

Reserve small forward Travis Wear topped the Knicks with a career-high 21 points. New York guard Langston Galloway accumulated 19 points in his second game with the team since getting the call from Westchester of the NBA Development League.

“I like to get out in transition,” Wear said. “The way we have been running our offense, we really have been opening it up. When you get open looks, you have to knock them down.” .

The 19 points from Galloway were the most scored by a Knicks rookie in his Madison Square Garden debut since Patrick Ewing scored 18 against the Philadelphia 76ers on Oct. 26, 1985.

“(Galloway) has a lot of confidence for a young player,” New York coach Derek Fisher said.

The Rockets put the game away in the third quarter, shooting 61.9 percent from the field. New York never got closer than 16 points again, and Houston led by as many as 27.

“Hopefully this is a cycle of a good hot streak for us,” McHale said.

McHale rested his starters in the fourth quarter with the game far out of reach.

Howard opened the second half converting two consecutive three-point plays to provide the Rockets with a 62-42 cushion. He popped in 11 points in the quarter.

Harden scored 17 points in the first half, matching the output of the Knicks’ starters, helping Houston to a 56-42 lead at the break.

“We depend on (Harden) and rely on him to make plays,” McHale said. “He has great vision, and we use that a lot. There are some nights when teams put two on him we use him to draw two and play four-on-three.”

The Knicks pulled within 30-28 early in the second quarter, but the Rockets went on a 15-4 burst for a 45-32 lead. Harden contributed seven points and two assists in the run.

NOTES: Houston’s James Harden ranks third among Western Conference guards in All-Star Game voting. He trails Stephen Curry and Kobe Bryant. … New York’s Carmelo Anthony is third among Western Conference forwards in the voting, trailing LeBron James and Pau Gasol. … Knicks coach Derek Fisher said Anthony (sore left knee) and C Amar’e Stoudemire would return to action when the team travels to London for a Jan. 15 game against the Milwaukee Bucks. Anthony has been out since Dec. 31, and Stoudemire hasn’t played since Christmas. … On Wednesday, Knicks G Langston Galloway played his first game since getting the call from Westchester of the NBA Development League. He scored seven points in 17 minutes against the Washington Wizards. … Entering play Thursday, the Rockets led the league in 3-point field goals made at 11.6 per game. They converted 16 of 36 against the Knicks. … New York lost by 20 or more points for the seventh time this season, and they fell to 3-16 at home. … Houston C Dwight Howard recorded his 17th double-double of the season.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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