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Recap: Big second half propels Hornets past Rockets, 122-117

Mark Williams had his best game as a pro in the win.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Terry Rozier scored 26 points while Mark Williams had 17 points and five blocks off the bench as the Charlotte Hornets defeated the Houston Rockets, 122-117. Unfortunately, the Hornets lost LaMelo Ball to injury in the process.

The game was dominated by the offenses in the early going, which wasn’t the least bit surprising. The Hornets had a few frustrating wide open misses as they fell behind early, but LaMelo Ball turned that around in a hurry with nine straight points across three possessions. His outburst seemed to lift the lid for the Hornets, who got 3-pointers from Terry Rozier (2) and Bryce McGowens (1) as they took a marginal lead on the Rockets. Mark Williams checked in for the final minute of the quarter and got two quick dunks off feeds from Dennis Smith Jr., which helped the Hornets to a 36-31 lead after one.

Williams picked up where he left off with another dunk to start the second quarter. The Rockets fouled him to prevent dunk number four, but he was able to convert a falling flip shot. He had a putback dunk later in the quarter to cap off a half where he finished with 11 points, six rebounds, and two blocks in eight minutes of work. The Hornets offense struggled outside of the Williams dunkapalooza though. Ball threw up too many early 3-pointers that weren’t dropping and the rest of the offense looked stumped by the Rockets packing the paint. Ball finished the second quarter 0-of-9 from the field with two turnovers. The Hornets only mustered 17 points as a team and trailed 60-53 at the half.

The Hornets opened the second half with a 10-0 run after a Rockets technical free throw to start the half. On the Rockets first made shot of the half, PJ Washington landed on LaMelo Ball’s ankle mid-stride, causing Ball’s ankle to roll over. Ball had to be helped into the locker room and would not return. Rockets rookie Jabari Smith had to leave with an injury just a couple of minutes later, which sucked the life out of the arena. The teams slowly built back the game’s rhythm as the quarter went on. Terry Rozier scored nine third quarter points in Ball’s absence and led the Hornets to 30 points. The cut the deficit to one heading into the fourth quarter.

PJ Washington scored seven quick points, Mark Williams got his fifth and sixth dunks, and Bryce McGowens hit his second three of the game to help the Hornets put a bit of a stiff arm on the Rockets. The Hornets capitalized on Rockets turnovers and errant shots during the run that put them ahead. A Rozier corner three followed by a driving layup put the Hornets up 12 with just over three minutes to go, which is when the game first really felt in the Hornets control. But this is the Hornets, and nothing is ever under control. PJ Washington missed a pair of free throws, which started a stretch where the Hornets went 2-of-6 from the line when trying to ice the game. Jalen Green hit some tough shots on the other end to keep the Rockets alive, but Bryce McGowens finally hit consecutive free throws to put the game away.

It was Williams best game as a pro as he finished with 17 points, six rebounds, and five blocks. Rozier’s 26 led seven Hornets in double figures. PJ Washington’s free throw misses were infuriating, but he had a very strong, aggressive all around game and finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, three steals, three blocks, and two assists. The Hornets had something like 14 dunks on the evening thanks in large part to their 14 steals and fast pace of play. They scored 69 points in the second half and shot 50% from the field for the game.

The Hornets will continue the road trip in Atlanta on Saturday against the Hawks,