Nets end 14-game skid vs Rockets, clinch playoffs

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 1, 2014 at 11:05 pm •  Published: April 1, 2014
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NEW YORK (AP) — The Brooklyn Nets are so good at home now that even the Houston Rockets can't beat them.

The Nets clinched a playoff berth by beating the Rockets at home for the first time in 11 years, getting 32 points from Joe Johnson in a 105-96 victory on Tuesday night.

Shaun Livingston added 17 points for the Nets, who extended their home winning streak to 14 games, longest in their NBA history and tops in the league this season. They finished 18-12 overall against the Western Conference.

"We've just been playing and trying to protect home court. They came in here and we try to send them on their way with a loss, and that's for everybody," Livingston said. "It just happens to be we've been playing good basketball against the West."

The Nets ended a 14-game skid against Houston with their first victory in the series since March 13, 2006. The Nets hadn't defeated the Rockets at home since March 31, 2003, when they were still playing in East Rutherford, N.J.

The Nets also pulled within 1½ games of Toronto and Chicago for the No. 3 seed in the East and home-court advantage in the first round, quite a change for a team that was so bad during its 10-21 start that Johnson had trouble envisioning where it is right now.

"Honestly, I couldn't even see it," he said. "I kept saying to myself eventually this is going to turn around, things are going to turn for us. Eventually it did starting the new year. We were a different team, our mindset was different and the way we played was different."

James Harden scored 26 points for Houston, which lost its second straight following a five-game winning streak. Still without Dwight Howard because of a sore left ankle, the Rockets shot just 38 percent from the field.

"We just missed some shots, missed some opportunities," Harden said of the Rockets, also without starters Patrick Beverley and Terrence Jones. "We let them get too comfortable early in the game. They got it going and it was tough."

Harden was 16 of 16 from the free-throw line. Omer Asik had 12 points and a career-high 23 rebounds while starting for Howard, while Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons each added 16 points.

The Nets held the NBA's second-highest scoring team 11 points below its average and improved to 30-12 overall since Jan. 1. They haven't lost at Barclays Center in more than two months and make just a short trip Wednesday to visit the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

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