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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Lowe's Senior CLASS, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.
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Rockets make it 9 straight wins with 118-106 win over the Charlotte Hornets
Posted: March 12 2019 -- 8:25 a.m. CDT
HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- The Houston Rockets raced to a 29 point lead Monday night then saw it shrink to 10 before defeating the Charlotte Hornets 118-106. Houston has won nine in a row and improves to 31-11 in games dating back to three months ago on 12/11 after starting the season 11-14. Charlotte falls to 3-7 post All-Star break.
Rockets' Head Coach Mike D'Antoni was not thrilled with his team's performance in the second half which helped the Hornets get back into the game; however, D'Antoni won't dwell on it.
"I just told them, ‘some of it is human nature and some of it is that's just the way the NBA is, and they have Kemba Walker, who's really good," D'Antoni said after the game. "You kind of take it for granted (and) he gets hot; and, the other guys start making threes. He comes down and we just had a hard time turning it back on, and we did, and like I said, a lot of it is human nature and some of it is self-inflicted. We just didn't rev it up; but, we'll go on."
Walker scored 17 points in the second quarter and 14 points in the third quarter. He finished the game with 40 points.
Houston (42-25) doubled up the Hornets in the first quarter and 38-19 after twelve minutes. Houston made 15 of 16 free throw attempts in the opening quarter to cover the 9 for 24 field goal shooting. Houston pushed the margin to 29 (71-42) late in the second quarter and led 71-44 at halftime.
In the first half, Eric Gordon scored 13 points to lead the Rockets. Kenneth Faried scored 12 points off the bench; Clint Capela scored 11 points and pulled down 8 boards; and, James Harden added 10 points and 7 assists.
The Hornets scored the first 8 points of the third quarter; but, Houston answered with 20-11 spurt to lead by 28 points (91-63) with 4:13 left in the third period. The Hornets outscored the Rockets 17-2 to close the quarter. Walker scored 11 of the 17 points.
Houston led 106-89 with nearly 7 minutes remaining in the game; but, Charlotte went on a 10-3 run to cut Houston's lead to 10 (109-99) with 3:26 remaining. Charlotte's Frank Kaminsky had an opportunity to cut the lead to 7; but, Kaminsky missed a three-point shot at the top of the key. Harden grabbed the missed shot and completed a three-point play on the other end for a 13 point lead. The Hornets did not threaten in the closing minutes.
Clint Capela finished the game with 19 points and 15 rebounds. He is averaging 18.0 points per game over the past three games after averaging 7.7 ppg the three games prior.
"I've been pretty good the last few games," Capela said. "And, I know I'm going to try to be just the same or even better."
James Harden had 28 points and 10 assists, marking his 25th double-double of the season (12th just point/assist with six triple-doubles). Harden also had 3 steals tonight and is averaging 2.14 steals per game overall this season (second in NBA).
"That's what it's all about," Harden remarked. "We started off the game really well. We got off to a big lead, everyone was involved, defensively we were active. We let up a little bit in that third quarter; they made a run, which we knew they were going to make a run. But we held our composure, they started throwing some traps, couldn't get us to play fast. We held our composure, made some shots, and finished the game off strong."
Eric Gordon had 22 points tonight after scoring 26 Sunday night at Dallas. The last time Gordon scored 20 plus points in consecutive games was 1/23 and 1/25. Houston has won 10 of the past 11 games in which Gordon's scored 20 or more, including eight straight. He hit 5 3-pointers tonight and is averaging 5.2 threes made per game on 51.0% shooting over the past five games.
"I get the ball a little bit more and they're looking for me," Gordon said. "And, it's all about me knocking down (shots). We've just been playing with a championship effort. We want everyone to play well and do well; and, for me it's just really knocking it down and getting the touches I get."
Houston's Kenneth Faried had 16 points and 9 rebounds in 20 minutes of play tonight after missing the previous five games due to an injury he suffered at Charlotte on 2/27. He has scored in double-figures in 16 of his 17 games as a Rocket. The first game against the Hornets was the only time he scored below double-digits (2 points in 8 minutes of play before getting hurt).
Charlotte's Kemba Walker scored 40 points on 14-of-20 shooting tonight, marking the third 40-point game by a Charlotte player vs. Houston (Stephen Jackson with 43 on 10/12/10 and Glen Rice with 42 on 1/21/97). The last time a player had 40 or more points while shooting 70.0% or better against the Rockets was Dwyane Wade with 45 on 70.8% shooting for Miami on 12/29/10.
The Rockets' next game is Wednesday, March 13, versus the Golden State Warriors, at 8:30 p.m.
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