LaMelo Ball notched his third career triple double while Terry Rozier scored a team high 31 points, but it wasn’t enough as the Charlotte Hornets allowed the Houston Rockets to hit 23 3-pointers and shoot 54% from the field in the 146-143 overtime loss.
If there was ever a game that you could predict the Hornets would start slowly, this was it. The Hornets came in on the second night of a back to back against an opponent that is easy to take lightly. That opponent also had three nights of rest at hom coming into the night. The Hornets trailed by as many as 16 in the opening quarter while giving up dunks, offensive rebounds, and free throws galore. LaMelo Ball single handedly cut into that deficit to get the Hornets within single digits, though they would give some of that back. After one, the Hornets trailed 43(!!) to 30.
The Hornets played better in a second quarter that was almost a total inverse of the first. The Hornets started dominating the offensive glass and pretty much caught up to the Rockets in terms of free throw attempts. LaMelo Ball found PJ Washington with an alley oop in transition to pull the Hornets within one, but the Hornets gave up two uncontested deep threes to Eric Gordon to give some ground right back. The Hornets got all the way back when Terry Rozier hit a heavily contested 3-pointer to give the Hornets a brief lead with less than seven seconds left in the half, but Kevin Porter Jr. dribbled the length of the court and hit one of his own to put the Rockets up 73-71 at the half.
The teams traded three straight made 3-pointers apiece to start the second half. The Rockets scored on six out of their first seven possessions as they quickly built the lead back up to double figures. They would not miss from deep and add eight more 3-pointers to their total in the quarter. Some were open, some were difficult, but regardless it seemed an unreasonable amount of threes for one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the league to make.
The Rockets made two more quick threes early in the fourth to build their lead to 17 points. The Hornets responded with nine straight points to chip the lead away. That chipping eventually turned into an overtaking as a 25-7 stretch of play put the Hornets in the lead after a Kelly Oubre put back. The Rockets answered and the teams proceeded to go back and forth. Garrison Mathews hit what seemed like his 20th corner three of the night to put the Rockets up three late. Terry Rozier hit Christian Wood with a playground move to pull the Hornets within one. PJ Washington tied it on the next possession with man sized offensive rebound and finish. The Rockets had 4.4 seconds to draw up a game winner, but Cody Martin stole the pass at half court and heaved the ball clear over the shot clock to send the game to overtime.
Terry Rozier hit an elbow jumper to open the overtime scoring, but the Rockets answered with six straight points. After a basket each, the Rockets had a run out with a four point lead with about a minute to go. They inexplicably threw an alley oop attempt that had no chance, and the Hornets stole it and went back the other way to pull back within two. Some free throws for each team meant the Hornets took possession of the ball down 145-143 with 14.4 seconds to play. Oubre got a decent look from the wing, but it rattled out. Kevin Porter Jr. missed his second free throw, but it was a hard miss that caromed out of bounds, which cost the Hornets precious seconds. They only had 0.3 seconds to hit a game tying three, which essentially impossible.
The Hornets appeared to have taken the Rockets lightly. They were too willing to let the Rockets shoot open threes and were very slow to rotate on even the most basic pick and roll offense. They were almost able to shoot their way out of the hole they dug themselves, but by the time they turned up the defensive intensity, the Rockets were already feeling themselves.
The Hornets travel to Chicago to take on the other most recent victim of the Rockets on Sunday.