Posted on February 28, 2019, by Travis Pulver
The Charlotte Hornets and Houston Rockets had different goals entering Wednesday night’s game. For the Hornets, it was about fighting for their playoff lives as they held onto the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Rockets, on the other hand, are trying to become someone that can beat the Golden State Warriors in a best of seven series.
While the Hornets did put up a good fight, it wasn’t quite enough to take down more determined Rockets team.
Everything looked good for the Rockets in the first quarter as they shot 61 percent from the field and got out to an early 41-33 lead. The second quarter, however, was a different story. Houston went from having everything clicking and working well to looking out of sync.
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As a result, the Hornets dominated the quarter, 36-21, and took a 69-62 lead into the break.
By the end of the second quarter, it became apparent that starting Eric Gordon and having him cover Kemba Walker was not a good idea. Walker had his way with Gordon hitting nine of ten shots from the field and scoring 27 points.
So, in the second half, Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni put Chris Paul on Walker who ended up scoring just eight points in the second half. After the game, Paul was complimentary of Walker’s game and talked about the challenge of defending him (ESPN):
“I would rather not (guard Walker) as much as possible, but I also like playing defense.”
Even though Walker was controlled more in the second half, the Rockets still had some ground to make up. They closed the gap in the third a little and were down four entering the fourth quarter, 94-90. But then an 18-4 run put the Rockets on top and they never looked back.
Charlotte kept it close the rest of the way but were unable to pull ahead. A pair of free throws by James Harden with 14.6 seconds left finished off the scoring and made the final 118-113, Houston.
The free throws put Harden, who is still battling a neck injury, at 30 points for the night. He had another rough shooting night going ten of 29 from the floor and just one of 11 from three-point range. His 30 led the team in scoring, but the Rockets also got great nights out of Clint Capela (23 points and 17 rebounds) and Chris Paul (17 points and 10 assists).
Kemba Walker ended the game with 35 points for the Hornets. Jeremy Lamb led the way off the bench with 18 points.
The loss is the third in a row for the Hornets who will hit the road to try to get back on the right side of the scoreboard. They travel to Brooklyn to face the Nets Saturday night.
For the Rockets, it is their third win in a row. They will head back home to try to make it four in a row when they take on the Miami Heat Thursday night.