Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
The New Orleans Hornets rallied to close a 19-point halftime deficit but fell short against the Rockets as James Harden scored 30.
The Rockets upended the Hornets on the back of strong performances by James Harden and Omer Asik. A lopsided second quarter saw the Rockets outscore the Hornets 39-18, creating a margin that the Hornets, despite a solid run in the second game, just couldn't overcome. Harden had his way with the Hornets defense and seemed to be the only Rocket that could score down the stretch. Harden was able to get to the rim with regularity and was sank long jumpers whenever the defense sagged. He was at his best in the fourth quarter when a hopelessly outmatched Austin Rivers was assigned to him on defense.
The Hornets had some bright spots - in general, the starters were pretty good. Greivis Vasquez had an outstanding night despite tweaking his left ankle, scoring 24 points on only 15 shots, as well as notching 9 assists while only recording 2 turnovers. He looked extremely capable running the break, twice finding Al-Farouq Aminu for his trademark ridiculous alley-oops. Vasquez consistently looks off defenders in transition before making difficult no-look passes, which makes the Hornets transition game difficult to defend.
Anthony Davis, however, was a bit of a disappointment coming off an excellent game against the Bobcats. He seemed a bit lost at times on defense, turning in a fairly anonymous defensive performance after opening the game with 3 early blocks. He even got tagged with four fouls, a few of which were a bit questionable. On offense, he was held to 2-7 shooting, scoring only 8 points and nabbing a mere 4 rebounds. We'll have to see if this was an aberration or the first two outstanding performances were outliers. He'll be facing the Thunder on Friday, which should be interesting - will Monty have him guard Durant?
A dissection of this loss would be incomplete without discussing Ryan Anderson's power outage from beyond the three point line, shooting 2-10 and missing several key threes down the stretch. He was still a valuable player thanks to his 6 offensive rebounds and a good number of putbacks at the rim. But those late-game misses really hurt the Hornets.
The Hornets bench also came up small tonight - Roberts, Smith, Henry, Mason, and Miller combined to go 4-15, and generally looked uninspiring. New Orleans will have a day to travel back to the Crescent City before playing host to the Thunder on Friday.