It was a rare sight last night, to see the Houston Rockets struggle offensively, but they fell apart in the fourth quarter in what turned out to be an 88-79 loss to the last place New Orleans Hornets. One of the NBA’s hottest teams of late, the Rockets were averaging 115.8 points during their five game win streak, but only managed a mere 10 points in the 4th quarter.
James Harden was the only double digit scorer for the Rockets with 25 points, which made it 14 straight games in which he has scored over 25 points, breaking the franchise record held by Moses Malone. Jeremy Lin had 9 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals, while Chandler Parsons and Omir Asik had 8 points and 8 rebounds each.
The Hornets were led by Greivis Vasquez, who had 17 points and 11 assists. But the story for New Orleans was their bench play, primarily reserve center Jason Smith, and veteran guard Roger Mason Jr. Smith added a double-double, with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Mason did not enter the game until late in the 3rd quarter. Down 69-59 at the end of the 3rd quarter, Mason led the comeback, scoring 15 of his 17 points in the 4th quarter, and the Hornets outscored the Rockets 29-10 in the quarter.
Houston went just 3-17 in the 4th quarter, and 0-8 from behind the arc. The Rockets also committed 22 turnovers, while being outrebounded by the Hornets, 46-39, something that has been rare for Houston so far this season. The struggles began in the fourth when the Hornets started the quarter on a 17-2 run, in which the Rockets went 1-12 from the field to began the quarter.
“They did a good job of blocking the paint and really making it tough on us,” Lin said. “We didn’t do a good job of finding that open man and making that open pass, me included. I’m the point guard and that starts with me.”
Carlos Delfino struggled off the bench, scoring just 9 points on 3-10 shooting, after being on fire the last couple of games, while Toney Douglas added 7 points. The Rockets bench was outscored 42-22 by the Hornets bench.
Houston travels to the east coast for a back-to-back on Friday and Saturday, starting with a trip to Boston to face the Celtics, then a date with the Philadelphia 76ers.