Last-second free throws push Rockets past Knicks

Aaron Holiday broke a tie by sinking two free throws with 0.3 seconds remaining and the Houston Rockets snapped a four-game skid with a 105-103 win over the visiting New York Knicks on Monday.

Holiday, whose scoring burst to open the fourth quarter helped the Rockets build a 91-80 lead, absorbed a foul from Jalen Brunson while attempting a desperation heave just before the buzzer. Brunson pulled the Knicks by hitting a 14-foot jumper with 8.1 seconds remaining.

Brunson scored 20 of his game-high 27 points in the second half while New York’s Donte DiVincenzo added 23 points and Josh Hart paired 17 points with 11 rebounds. Bojan Bogdanovic scored nine of his 15 points in the fourth to fuel the comeback for the Knicks, who lost for the fourth time in five games.

Dillon Brooks led the Rockets with 23 points, and it was his corner 3-pointer that supplied the 91-80 lead with 7:17 left. Jabari Smith Jr. tallied 20 points, while Alperen Sengun and Holiday scored 18 apiece and Jalen Green had 16.

Having trailed by as many as 16 in the first half, the Knicks imposed their will in the third quarter.

New York started the second half with a 16-4 run that closed the deficit to 61-59, with Hart and DiVincenzo kickstarting an offensive resurgence. The Knicks made headway by corralling eight offensive rebounds in the period and turning those into eight second-chance points.

The Knicks also held the Rockets to 4-for-12 shooting in the third while forcing six turnovers. Brunson had an opportunity to provide New York with a lead when he scored through a foul at the 2:45 mark, but he missed the subsequent free throw to leave the score tied.

When Smith nailed a 3-pointer with five seconds remaining in the frame, it enabled the Rockets to carry a 74-71 lead into the fourth.

DiVincenzo carried the Knicks early, starting 3-for-3 from behind the arc to fuel a 16-8 lead. The Rockets rallied with an 11-0 burst ignited by a Brooks 3-pointer and four free throws from Green.

The Rockets carved out a 29-22 lead entering the second by virtue of a 7-for-9 start from the line. Outside of DiVincenzo, the Knicks struggled to find offense. Brunson started 0-for-7 and didn’t convert a field goal until his trey pulled the Knicks to within 47-35 with 3:35 left in the half.

By then, the Rockets had seized control. They extended to a 51-35 edge on consecutive inside baskets from Amen Thompson and Green. Houston led 57-43 at the break.

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