The Charlotte Hornets have been struggling of late, and their margin for error is slim. On Thursday night against the Houston Rockets, they combined for a season-high 22 turnovers, which led to 27 Rocket points and a second-half deficit that the Hornets could never overcome.
The Rockets came in to Thursday night’s game with arguably one of the best players in the game in James Harden. The Sun Devil alum grabbed a triple-double in the first contest in Houston, with a 40-point, 15-rebound, 10-assist line, so obviously limiting him to under those numbers would have been beneficial to the Hornets. The seventh-year pro averages 29 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds per game this season; his line tonight? 30 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists, so Harden was on point with his season averages tonight. The man is going to get his numbers. That wasn’t the problem. The sloppy play of the Hornets was the problem. The Hornets cost themselves a game they could’ve won and maybe should’ve won, against one of the higher tier teams in the association.
The Hornets led for the majority of the first half with a balanced attack from the starting five, which included for the first time in seven games; Cody Zeller. The Hornets are six games over .500 when Zeller starts and ten games under when the big man sits, so at least a bit of confidence seemed to be back, as the Hornets sprinkled in a 10-0 run in the first quarter. The Hornets finished the half with 17 assists and added a nice production in the paint as they shot 51 percent from the field, but 13 turnovers limited the Hornets lead at the end of the first half to just four at 54-50.
The second half continued with a mirror of the first half, as the Hornets stretched their lead out to seven at 60-53 with a drop-back jumper from Kemba Walker. Little did we know this would be about the end of the Hornets run that night, as Harden would orchestrate a foul routine from behind the arc, hit two out of three from the charity stripe and cut the Hornet lead to 63-60. After three straight empty possessions from the Hornets, two of which were turnovers, the Rockets capitalized with two threes from Patrick Beverley and Ryan Anderson and pushed their lead out to 66-63, a lead that the Rockets would never relinquish.
The Hornets would eventually fall 107-95 and although the game was close the Hornets were kept at an arms length for the whole fourth quarter, the Hornets have now lost 8 of 9 and seem to be wading in a sea of misery wishing for the all star break.