Rockets beat Magic without Harden

(Field Level Media) Playing without James Harden for the first time since the star guard injured his hamstring, the Houston Rockets trounced the lowly Orlando Magic 116-98 yesterday at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla.

Harden was injured Sunday in Houston’s double-overtime victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. He could be out of the lineup for anywhere from two to six weeks.

Playing in only his fourth game of the season, veteran Gerald Green helped pick up the slack. He produced a season-high 27 points and six rebounds and made 7 of 1-0 3-point tries for the Rockets, who connected on 15 of 34 tries from behind th line.

Clint Capela finished with 21 points and eight rebounds for Houston. Aaron Gordon led Orlando with 16 points.

The Rockets (27-9) couldn’t have found themselves a much better opponent than the Magic to figure out how they will get by without Harden, who is averaging 32 points, nine assists and five rebounds per game this season. Orlando lost for the 12th time in 13 games to fall to 12-27 overall.

This one was never close as Houston raced out to a 25-12 lead after a quarter thanks to a horrid shooting performance by the Magic. The team’s top scorers, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier, combined to make 9 of 34 tries from the field for Orlando, which shot 38.5 percent from the floor.

The Rockets stretched their lead to 23 points by the end of the third quarter despite off-shooting nights from Chris Paul and Eric Gordon. Paul had 13 assists and seven rebounds but only scored eight points as he missed 10 of 13 shots. Eric Gordon finished with 17 points but made only 5 of 16 field-goal attempts.

Ryan Anderson had 17 points and seven rebounds in the win. Nene Hilario chipped in 10 points in 14 minutes off the bench for Houston.

Elfrid Payton and Mario Hezonja scored 14 points each in the losing effort.

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