The Hornets got off to an ideal offensive start. Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams, and Miles Bridges each hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions. The Hornets went basket for basket with the Rockets for most of the period and did a great job limiting James Harden, but a 9-2 run from Chris Paul put the Rockets up 41-33 at the first intermission.
The Hornets wasted little time falling behind by as many as 15 points early in the second quarter. A Williams layup broke the seal, and the Hornets took off from there. The Hornets scored 16 straight points, including 10 from Kemba Walker, to take the lead. When all was said and done, the Hornets had gone on a 28-6 run and led by seven heading into halftime. Walker scored 18 points in less than six minutes during the quarter.
The teams traded baskets for most of the third quarter, with P.J. Tucker a major thorn in the Hornets’ side. He hit three 3-pointers in the first half of the quarter. The Hornets held firm, and a Walker jumper gave them a 12 point lead with 4:36 left in the third, their largest lead of the game. The Rockets responded with a 14-3 run to pull within a point, but a Marvin Williams running 3-pointer at the buzzer gave the Hornets a two possession lead heading into the final frame.
The Rockets (read: Chris Paul and Gerald Green) jumped on the Hornets early in the fourth quarter. It looked like the game would get out of hand, but a Jeremy Lamb layup and Nicolas Batum 3-pointer stopped the bleeding. The Hornets pulled close, but a questionable foul call on Kemba Walket put Harden on the line to put the Rockets up five with 1:15 to go. The Hornets couldn’t get over that hump, and lost 118-113.
Along with Walker and Lamb, Nicolas Batum gets a shout out for his play tonight. He scored 17 points to go with 6 rebounds and 6 assists and played stellar defense on James Harden.
A mostly good game was undone by a cold stretch of play that spanned the late third and early fourth quarters. It’s those stretches that have cost the Hornets dearly in recent weeks.
Up next is a visit to Brooklyn to take on the Nets on Friday.