The Houston Rockets and Charlotte Hornets slugged it out for three quarters, with Charlotte mostly holding a slim lead throughout, but with the Rockets hanging tough and often just a few points off the pace. But Houston suffered a complete fourth-quarter collapse, scoring just seven total points in the frame and falling to the Hornets in the first game of a back-to-back 119-94.
The teams were tied at 87 heading into the closing moments of the third period, with the Rockets closing the gap and apparently heading into the fourth on high note, before Malik Monk cashed a buzzer-beating triple to end the period and put the Hornets up three.
That deep dagger was the catalyst that broke Houston, as the Rockets missed 10 consecutive shots in the fourth, not sinking a field goal until 4:21 in the final frame.
Both John Wall and Eric Gordon sat tonight for rest, and nowhere were they missed more than in the fourth when the Rockets just couldn’t get their offense moving. Victor Oladipo led the way with 21 points, but he’s simply not a point guard and has nowhere near the control of the offense like Wall. And Gordon’s been hot, scoring 20-plus in four straight games, and he could have been of use with Houston sputtering to a standstill down the stretch.
Oladipo also went for 7 rebounds and 6 assists, finishing 7-18 from the field and 3-10 from deep. He will now sit tomorrow against New Orleans, while Gordon and Wall will be back.
The Rockets also had help from Ben McLemore, who went for 15 points on 4-7 shooting from deep. It was good to see McLemore find his stroke again, as he’s been slow to get his footing again after returning from COVID.
Houston also got 13 points apiece from Jae’Sean Tate, who continues to impress with his court acumen, and Danuel House, who is getting more comfortable by the game since returning from injury. But as far as double-digit scorers, that was it.
Houston was just 13-46 from the three-point line and shot just 41 percent from the floor, but ultimately, it was the Rockets’ formidable defense that also failed to step up, as they were sliced and diced to the tune of 119 points on 19-41 from deep and 48 percent overall from the field by Charlotte.
The Hornets were led by LaMelo Ball, who finished with 24 points and 10 assists on 7-12 from beyond the arc, and they also got 19 points and 10 rebounds from Miles Bridges. Gordon Hayward also put up 19 to go along with 6 rebounds, and 4 assists, while Charlotte also got 15 from Terry Rozier, 15 from Monk, and 10 points and 7 rebounds from Cody Zeller.
Houston has now lost two games in a row and fall to 11-12 on the season. They will look to bounce back tomorrow night in New Orleans.