AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Dwight Howard vs. Andre Drummond was a mismatch from the start – so it didnt really matter how many key players were missing for the Houston Rockets.
Howard had 35 points and 19 rebounds, leading the short-handed Rockets to a 114-97 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night. Howard dominated Drummond, Detroits 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.
I love Andre – the way hes been playing this year, Howard said. Hes 20 years old, and he doesnt back down from any challenge, and I love that about him. Hes going to continue to get better.
But Drummond looked overmatched against Howard, who ended up with his highest-scoring game since joining the Rockets in the offseason. Howard went 13 of 18 from the field, while Drummond managed only nine points at the other end.
At the end I thanked him for the lesson, Drummond said. He said, Any time.
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.
Dwight was unbelievable tonight. He completely dominated the game, Houstons Chandler Parsons said. Im a big fan of Andre Drummond. I think hes got a lot of potential, and hes a really good player, but I mean, Dwight just dominated tonight.
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.
Drummonds tip-in made it 92-82, but Howard responded by simply backing Drummond down again for two more points. Francisco Garcias 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.
BULLS 100, CAVALIERS 84: In Chicago, Carlos Boozer scored 19 points to help Chicago snap a four-game losing streak.
D.J. Augustin scored 18.
Boozer and Augustin both got off to strong starts as the Bulls built a 17-point halftime lead.
KINGS 105, MAGIC 100: In Orlando, Fla., Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas each scored 23 points, Marcus Thornton added 15 and Sacrament hit a season-high 12 3-pointers to end a three-game losing streak.
JAZZ 88, BOBCATS 85: In Charlotte, N.C., Trey Burke scored 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter as Utah snapped Charlottes three-game winning streak. Burke hit a 3-pointer with 1:38 left to put his team up by three and added a pair of free throws with 10 seconds remaining.
GRIZZLIES 95, KNICKS 87: In New York, Zach Randolph had 25 points and 15 rebounds as Memphis snapped a five-game losing streak.
WIZARDS 106, CELTICS 99: In Boston, Trevor Ariza scored 27 points and hit a 3-pointer that capped a fourth-quarter run in Washingtons comeback victory.
With the Wizards trailing 92-84, Ariza started a 14-1 run with a jumper from the right corner. John Wall had five of his 20 points in the surge.
THUNDER 113, SPURS 100: In San Antonio, Russell Westbrook had 31 points as Oklahoma City won its ninth in a row.
Reggie Jackson had 21 points, Kevin Durant added 17 and Serge Ibaka had 14 points and 14 rebounds for Oklahoma City.
Tony Parker scored 23 points, and Marco Belinelli and Tim Duncan had 17 points apiece for San Antonio, which took only its second home loss.
BUCKS 116, 76ERS 106: In Milwaukee, Khris Middleton scored 27 points, and Caron Butler added 22 as Milwaukee won for just the sixth time this season.
Brandon Knight contributed 21 points and six assists for the Bucks (6-21). Butler, who missed the previous 12 games with a swollen left knee, also had 11 rebounds.
SUNS 123, MAVERICKS 108: In Phoenix, Eric Bledsoe scored 25 points, and Phoenix matched its season high with 15 3-pointers – in 30 tries – to win its highest-scoring game of the season.
Gerald Green made 4 of 8 3-pointers en route to 22 points and Channing Frye made 4 of 6 3s and scored 18 in the Suns seventh win in their last eight games.