Posted November 11, 2012 on AP on Fox
The Houston Rockets knew they needed to get back on track Saturday night after three straight losses. When they learned they'd be without coach Kevin McHale against Detroit, they were even more determined to break the losing streak. James Harden scored 20 points, Omer Asik had 14 and the Rockets beat the winless Pistons 96-82 in their first game without McHale. The team announced earlier Saturday that McHale was taking an immediate leave of absence to deal with a family matter. Assistant coach Kelvin Sampson took over, and said before the game that he hoped the team would come together to win for McHale. The Rockets did just that, using a third-quarter run to build a big lead and go on to their first victory at home. The Pistons fell to 0-7. ''It was good for us to come out here and get a win, especially for Coach McHale and what he's going through,'' Harden said. Jeremy Lin said it was a bit strange to play without McHale in charge of the team. ''It was definitely different,'' Lin said. ''He's our leader. He's our voice. But Coach Sampson did a good job coming in, and we played hard. Obviously, we can't wait for Coach McHale to come back. Everybody around here loves him to death.'' Brandon Knight scored 16 points for Detroit and Greg Monroe added 12 points and 11 rebounds. Detroit scored five quick points to get within four midway through the third quarter. The Rockets responded with an 11-2 spurt highlighted by six points from Harden to make it 69-56 with less than four minutes left in the period. Harden was fouled on a layup he made after a nifty assist from Lin during that run. Harden slapped the padded part of the goal after the shot, and promptly knocked down the free throw for the three-point play. Sampson, who was a longtime college coach before moving to the NBA, acknowledged that it felt odd to be working as a head coach again for the first time since 2008. ''I was nervous at first,'' he said. ''I kept tonight in perspective. I kept thinking of Kevin and his family and what he's going through. That's something far more important than me coaching a game for the first time in (almost) five years.'' Houston padded its lead by scoring the first eight points of the fourth quarter. Detroit couldn't do anything offensively in the fourth quarter and missed its first 10 shots. The Pistons didn't score in the quarter until Knight's jump shot with six minutes remaining made it 80-59. ''There was no offensive energy out there at all,'' Detroit coach Lawrence Frank said. ''We didn't even give ourselves a chance during that run. I don't make excuses why because I know we're capable of doing more.'' Detroit's Tayshaun Prince, who scored 13 points, was unhappy with the team's performance. ''The way we are playing right now is unacceptable,'' he said. ''Guys should be upset right now.'' Houston came in averaging almost 20 turnovers a game but had a season-low 14 against Detroit. This was the second meeting between these teams this season. Harden scored 37 points and had 12 assists in a 105-96 victory in his debut with the Rockets on Oct. 31 after a trade from Oklahoma City days earlier. Marcus Morris added 12 points for Houston and Toney Douglas had 11. Lin helped out with seven points, eight assists and four rebounds. Houston was up 72-57 entering the fourth quarter. The Rockets were up by five at the end of the first quarter, and used a 14-7 run capped by a 3-pointer from Douglas to open the second quarter and extend the lead to 34-22. Houston's lead was 15 points late in the second quarter before Detroit scored nine straight points to end the period and cut the Rockets' lead to 47-41 at halftime. NOTES: Houston rookies Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas made their NBA debuts on Saturday night. Jones had five points and two blocks and Motiejunas had three points . ... Houston's Chandler Parsons has made at least one 3-pointer in each game this season. ... There is no timetable for McHale's return.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES
STEPPING AWAY

McHale taking leave of absence

The Rockets announced on Saturday that their head coach will be taking a leave of absence from the team for reasons not yet made public. 

McHale dealing with a family matter

Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale has taken a leave of absence to deal with a family matter. The team announced the move on Saturday and said assistant coach Kelvin Sampson will be in charge while McHale is out. There is no timetable for the return of the second-year coach and Hall of Fame player. ''Kevin is a devoted family man who is needed back home in Minnesota at...

McHale takes leave of absence from Rockets

Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale has taken a leave of absence to deal with a family matter. The team announced the move on Saturday and says assistant coach Kelvin Sampson will be in charge while McHale is out. There is no timetable for the return of the second-year coach and Hall of Fame player. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey says: ''Kevin is a devoted family man...

Grieving McHale returns to Rockets

Houston coach Kevin McHale has rejoined the Rockets after almost a month away from the team, and two weeks after the death of his daughter. McHale took a leave of absence on Nov. 10 to be with his family as his daughter's health worsened. Twenty-three-year-old Alexandra ''Sasha'' McHale died Nov. 24 of complications from Lupus. McHale will coach the Rockets...

Former Wolves coach takes leave of absence

HOUSTON (AP) Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale took a leave of absence on Saturday to deal with a family matter. The team announced the move and said assistant coach Kelvin Sampson will be in charge while McHale is out. Sampson said McHale called him Saturday afternoon and asked him to coach the team. "Hopefully whatever the family matter is, it gets taken care of,"...

Rockets control game, beat winless Pistons

HOUSTON There was an experimental quality to the Houston Rockets' 96-82 win over the Detroit Pistons Saturday night. Maybe it was because the boss, coach Kevin McHale, was out of the office; he was on leave tending to a personal matter. Maybe it was because they thought nobody was watching; a late-arriving crowd sported a lot of Texas A&M gear, evidence of priorities in...

Harden, Rockets send Pistons to 0-7

HOUSTON (AP) -- James Harden scored 20 points, Omer Asik had 14 and the Houston Rockets beat the winless Detroit Pistons 96-82 on Saturday night in their first game without coach Kevin McHale. The team announced earlier Saturday that McHale was taking an immediate leave of absence to deal with a family matter. Assistant coach Kelvin Sampson took over for McHale, and said before...

Rockets 96, Pistons 82

James Harden scored 20 points, Omer Asik had 14 and the Houston Rockets beat the winless Detroit Pistons 96-82 on Saturday night in their first game without coach Kevin McHale. The team announced earlier Saturday that McHale was taking an immediate leave of absence to deal with a family matter. Assistant coach Kelvin Sampson took over for McHale, and said before the game that he...

The Charles Barkley Golfing Compilation Of Ultimate Turribleness

Yao Ming has an hilariously bad golf swing, but the undisputed master of the two-sport golf swing of shame is the “swing halfway down, stop, shake around a bunch, follow through” stroke of NBA legend Charles Barkley. I don’t wan to sound like I’m exaggerating for comic effect, but on a list of the objectively worst things in the world, it’s in the top ten. Famine, child...

McHale To Take Leave Of Absence From Rockets

Kevin McHale will take a leave to address an unspecified personal matter.

Pistons-Rockets Preview

James Harden has endured some rough efforts since a spectacular Houston Rockets debut that came against the Detroit Pistons. Harden's Rockets have lost three straight entering Saturday night's home matchup against a winless Pistons team off to its worst start in 33 years. The star shooting guard had been with Houston for four days when he had 37 points and 12 assists in...

McHale On Leave For Family Issue

Kelvin Sampson has assumed head coaching duties for the Rockets in Kevin McHale's absence.
NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.