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"We know these games, even if you say they don't mean more, they mean a lot more, I think, just because of the rivalry that's been formed," Nets guard Deron Williams said.
BOXSCORE: Nets 105, Rockets 96
"We've just been playing and trying to protect home court. They came in here and we try to send them on their way with a loss, and that's for everybody," Livingston said. "It just happens to be we've been playing good basketball against the West."
McHale was more frustrated with Houston's lack of ball movement.
Harden was 16 of 16 from the free throw line. Omer Asik had 12 points and a career high 23 rebounds while starting for Howard, while Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons each added 16 points.
victory keeps their hopes of snatching the West's No. 2 seed from the Thunder alive.
The Nets ended a 14 game skid against Houston with their first victory in the series since March 13, 2006.
Johnson's 32 helps Nets defeat Rockets
The Nets opened their largest lead when Johnson's 3 pointer made it 78 67 with 4:03 left in the third, but the Rockets were back within one before Johnson nailed another 3 with 45 seconds remaining to send Brooklyn to the fourth with an 83 79 advantage.
The Nets held the NBA's second highest scoring team 11 points below its average and improved to 30 12 overall since Jan. 1. They haven't lost at Barclays Center in more than two months and make just a short trip Wednesday to visit the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
James Harden scored 26 points for Houston, which lost its second straight following a five game winning streak. Still without Dwight Howard because of a sore left ankle, the Rockets shot just 38 percent from the field.
points from Joe Johnson in a 105 96 victory on Tuesday night.
21 shooting, 17 of those coming in the first halfThe Rockets were without starters Dwight Howard (ankle), Patrick Beverley (knee) and Terrence Jones (flu)The Nets had lost the last 14 matchups with Houston, their last win was a 90 77 win on March 13, 2006
Brooklyn had six players score in double figures in its third win in a row overall. It was once again without starting center Kevin Garnett because of back spasms, as it was all March while going 12 4, as well as key reserves Andrei Kirilenko (sprained left ankle) and Marcus Thornton (back).
The Nets clinched a playoff berth by beating the Rockets at home for the first time in 11 years, getting 32 New Balance 420 Burgundy And Grey
NOTES: McHale said Howard had received another shot in the ankle, saying there was mostly soft tissue inflammation that hopefully would calm down. The All Star center has missed five of the last seven games. Brooklyn's Jason Kidd was the Eastern Conference New Balance 996 Green Label coach of the month for March, joining Chicago's Tom Thibodeau as the only coaches to win two monthly awards in their rookie seasons. Kidd won for the first time for January.
April 15, 2014: Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, left, grabs a rebound in a 117 1105 win against the Nuggets. The New Balance Elite Edition 1600
NEW YORK (AP) The Brooklyn Nets are so good at home now that even the Houston Rockets can't beat them.
"I don't know how (long) you have to play with somebody to throw the ball to the open man," he said. "What, you've got to know him personally?"
Shaun Livingston added 17 points for the Nets, who extended their home winning streak to 14 games, longest in their NBA history and tops in the league this season. They finished 18 12 overall against the Western Conference.
GARNETT: Return could give Nets a boost
Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Johnson, right, dribbles the ball past Houston Rockets guard James Harden during the third quarter at Barclays Center.(Photo: Ed Mulholland, USA TODAY Sports)
"Honestly, I couldn't even see it," he said. "I kept saying to myself eventually this is going to turn around, things are going to turn for us. Eventually it did starting the new year. We were a different team, our mindset was different and the way we played was different."
The Nets shot 59 percent in the first quarter, getting 11 points from Johnson in taking a 29 24 lead. Houston moved ahead for the first time midway through the second, but Brooklyn put together an 11 0 spurt late in the half and took a 54 51 edge into the break.
"We just missed some shots, missed some opportunities," Harden said of the Rockets, also without starters Patrick Beverley and Terrence Jones. "We let them get too comfortable early in the game. They got it going and it was tough."
Brooklyn put it away midway through the fourth, re opening an 11 point lead on a questionable goaltending call that gave a basket to rookie Jorge Gutierrez and earned Rockets coach Kevin McHale a technical foul for arguing.
The Nets also pulled within 1 games of Toronto and Chicago for the No. 3 seed in the East and home court advantage in the first round, quite a change for a team that was so bad during its 10 21 start that Johnson had trouble envisioning where it is right now.
Story HighlightsJoe Johnson scored 32 points on 13 of New Balance 574 Trainers Review
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