The Hornets lost to the Rockets at the Toyota Center in Houston, 100-96, after trying to rally from a dismal second quarter performance.
James Harden led the Rockets’ scoring with 30 points. The Rockets had two players record double-doubles: Omer Asik supplied 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Chandler Parsons 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Hornet’s guard Greivis Vasquez scored a career high 24 points, shooting 8-15 from the field, 3-4 from three point range and a perfect 5-5 at the line. Vasquez also captured 5 rebounds and 9 assists. He currently is ranked 4th in the NBA in assists (behind Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul, and Jrue Holiday) with 8.8 per game.
Other Hornets’ contributors included Al-Farouq Aminu with 14 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocked shots. Ryan Anderson, with 20 points and 12 rebounds, recorded his second double-double of the season.
Austin Rivers started the scoring for the Hornets in the first quarter when he hit a base line three. This was Rivers’ first three pointer of the season. The Hornets then took the lead early and ended the first quarter 27-28. Both teams were shooting 50% at the end of the first, the Hornets defense contributing four steals and two blocked shots in the first quarter.
Problems started in the second quarter, with the Hornets outscored by the Rockets, 39-18. The Rockets’ bench knocked down 6 three pointers as the Hornets struggled to defend the perimeter from both Toney Douglas and Marcus Morris, who were a combined 6-8 from three point range. Harden continued to attack the rim by driving inside off the dribble and off of the pick-and-roll. The Rockets led at the end of the half, 64-45.
The Hornets gave up five turnovers in the second quarter, and shot only 23.5% from the field.
After the break the Hornets started to chip away at the difference. Greivis Vasquez started a 11-0 scoring run for the Hornets with a mid range jumper, and he continued to attack. Two possessions later he found Al-Farouq Aminu with a no-look pass for an open dunk. The Hornets outscored the Rockets 31-12 in the third quarter and cut their opponent’s lead to 11.
When asked about his role during the half time break, Head Coach Monty Williams said, “At the half time session I have to do some reminding of who we are… We got to have a mindset of playing a tough, nasty style of basketball. I didn’t see that in the second quarter.”
In the fourth the Hornets battled to within seven points when Vasquez knocked a three with 2:55 left to play. Anderson fought hard for an offensive board during the next possession that led to a second chance score. Vasquez brought the score within two when he buried another three on the next possession. With 1:05 left to play, Rockets forward Chandler Parsons knocked down a fade-away jump shot, bringing the score to 100-96. The Hornets attempted 3 more shots but were unable to score.
“I want our guys to understand that’s no way to play the game of basketball,” said Williams after the game. “When you win three quarters, you only have eleven turnovers and you still lose the game, there’s something extraordinary happening, and it was the 39-point quarter.”
The Hornets host last season’s Western Conference Champions, the Oklahoma City Thunder, on Friday night at the New Orleans Arena at 7 p.m.