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Hornets fall to Rockets, 108-96

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Houston opened up from the 3-point line, and Charlotte couldn’t keep pace.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Houston Rockets Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets defeated the Charlotte Hornets 108-96 behind a season high 31 points from Chris Paul. Dwight Howard finished with 26 points and 18 rebounds for Charlotte.

There was a worst case scenario heading into tonight where Houston got hot from 3 and shot Charlotte out of the building. That proved true — the Rockets made 17-45 from beyond the arc. The makes matter more than the attempts, as Houston made more than their season average of 16.

But the Hornets started well defensively, holding Houston without a field goal for the first three and a half minutes of the game. They jumped out to a 7-1 lead, but Houston responded with five straight to cut it to a one point game, then eventually took the lead at 11-10. Charlotte answered, however, scoring five straight. Charlotte held a small lead for the next few minutes until Houston took the lead again on a James Harden And-1 layup. It started what would be a poor finish to the quarter, as the Rockets made three open 3-pointers and jumped out to a 38-23 lead.

Charlotte started by effectively pushing Houston off the 3-point line. It worked to an extent, as Houston started 3-8. But once the second unit entered, they left shooters open, and Houston made three in four possessions to open up a large lead.

It got worse in the second. Houston’s run extended to 25-0 at one point (that is not a typo) and led 54-29 midway through the quarter. It had the look of a game that would be over by halftime, but Charlotte fought back a bit, and trailed by just 14 at halftime.

Houston made 10-of-21 from the 3-point line in the first half. Their bench outscored Charlotte’s 19-4. The Hornets also made just one 3-pointer.

The lack of perimeter scoring hurt a ton in the third quarter. Open shots came, but they couldn’t convert, and Houston jumped back out to a 20 point lead. The Hornets looked often to Dwight Howard as a result.

The margin hung around 20 points for most of the fourth quarter. The closest Charlotte ever came after going down big was 14 in the third.

Charlotte finished just 4-for-21 from 3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Kemba Walker had just 13 points. No other Hornets scored in double figures.

Rinse this game out of your minds, people. Tonight was always going to be tough, no matter how good or bad the Hornets were playing this season. Houston is on another level in the NBA.

Charlotte falls to 10-17 on the season. They take on the Portland Trailblazers at home this Friday.