Kevin Porter Jr. scored 33 points, Jalen Green added 32 and the Houston Rockets snapped a seven-game losing skid with a 121-115 victory over the visiting Detroit Pistons on Friday.
In what was a nip-and-tuck affair during which neither team led by double figures, Porter nailed a 3-pointer with 59 seconds left off a Green assist that lifted Houston (19-59) to a 116-110 lead. Green answered a pullup by Pistons rookie Jaden Ivey with an eight-footer 22 seconds after Porter’s previous trey.
The Rockets survived despite missing 11 free throws, six in the fourth. They were buoyed by double-doubles from rookie Jabari Smith Jr. (13 points, 11 rebounds) and Alperen Sengun, who added seven assists to his 15 points and 13 boards. Kenyon Martin Jr. also scored 15 points as all five Rockets starters scored in double figures.
Marvin Bagley III led Detroit (16-61) with 21 points while Ivey paired 18 points with a game-high nine assists. Despite Cory Joseph (17 points) and Jalen Duren (11 points, 10 rebounds) excelling off the bench, the Pistons lost their eighth straight game and fell to 1-17 since the All-Star break.
The game featured 14 ties and 23 lead changes.
Porter and Green combined for 26 points in the third quarter but the Rockets made little headway after surrendering 18 points in the paint in the period. Ivey, with seven points and four assists, was instrumental in helping Detroit attack the rim, and Joseph delivered a 3-pointer with 3.1 seconds left that enabled the Pistons to reclaim the lead at 92-91 entering the final quarter.
The back-and-forth tone was set in a first quarter that featured seven lead changes and two ties. Houston carried a 31-28 lead into the second despite going the last 2:52 of the period without a field goal and in spite of an 11-point frame from Bagley. Ivey appeared to beat the buzzer with a 12-footer but a review of the play revealed that he did not release the shot before time expired.
Detroit rode a 10-0 run capped by an Isaiah Livers transition 3 into a 56-49 lead with 3:22 left in the half, an advantage the Piston stretched to eight points before Green drilled a 3-pointer that cut that deficit to 61-58 at the intermission. While four of five starters scored in double figures for Houston prior to the break, the Pistons carved an advantage on the strength of 20 bench points.