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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 erase 15 point deficit and defeat Hornets by 15, 125-110
Posted: February 4, 2020 -- 11:57 p.m. CT
HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- The Houston Rockets defeated the Charlotte Hornets 125-110 Tuesday night. The Rockets began the game very slowly and trailed the Hornets 34-22 after the first quarter.
The Hornets outrebounded the Rockets 20-9 and outscored them 14-2 in second-chance points in the first period.
Houston (32-18) trailed by as much as 15 points (39-24) in the second quarter; but, James Harden scored 5 points during a 12-2 run to pull within 41-36. Houston took its first lead of the half when Harden through a bounce pass to Danuel House Jr as he raced up the court. House finished a tough layup for a 59-58 lead.
"Yeah, we weren't playing smart enough," James Harden /b> said. "They were doing a lot of slipping, which caused them to get some open shots and open drives and rebounding. "We gave up too many offensive rebounds at the beginning of the game. Once we settled down and figured out what they were doing, and corrected it – then brought the energy, the shots fell and continued to fall."
The Hornets (16-35) closed out the half outscoring the Rockets 5-3 to lead 63-62 at the half. Charlotte had a 4-3 advantage in second-chance points in the second quarter.
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The third quarter had 5 lead changes and two ties. Charlotte's largest lead was five points. The Hornets led 84-82 when Ben McLemore made a three-point shot to begin a Rockets' 10-4 spurt in the final 2:57 to end the third quarter.
Houston led 92-88 after three quarters; and, the Rockets tied the Hornets in second-chance points in the quarter at 4.
Hornets' guard Devonte' Graham sank a 3 to begin the fourth quarter. Teammate Malik Monk scored a driving layup to move ahead of the Rockets 93-92. Houston answered with a 6-2 burst to lead 98-95 when Graham knocked down two consecutive three-pointers for a 101-98 Hornets' lead.
Thabo Sefolosha tied the game at 101 with his only three-point basket of the game. The game was tied at 103 when P.J. Tucker scored a driving layup and Harden followed with a step back three-point basket. Danuel House made a three and dunked from an alley-oop feed from Harden for a 10-0 run and a 113-103 Rockets' lead with 5:18 remaining in the game.
Charlotte got as close as 7 points with 5:13 remaining; but, Harden closed the door on the Hornets scoring 9 points (a layup; one three-point bucket; and a four-point play) in the next three minutes to secure the win for the Rockets.
The Hornets had zero second-chance points in the fourth quarter.
"They (Charlotte) played well," Mike D'Antoni said after the game. "But, obviously, we didn't come out with a lot of energy on defense. I think the second-chance points were like 18-2 at halftime and then in the second half they got four second-chance points. It wasn't that we coached them to box out. It's like they (Rockets) picked up their energy."
James Harden had 40 points, 12 assists, 9 rebounds and 3 steals.
The Rockets next game is Thursday, February 6, on the road, against the Los Angeles Lakers. Tip is set for 9:30 p.m.
P.J. Tucker had 13 points and 10 rebounds, marking his sixth double-double of the season. He snaps a 21-game streak of scoring below 10 points. Dating back to last season, Houston is 27-10 when Tucker scores in double-figures. Tucker shot 3-of-8 from 3-point range tonight, marking his first game with 3 or more threes since December 13. All-time (back to 2017-18) Houston is 36-10 when Tucker has made 3 or more three-point field goals.
Eric Gordon had 16 points despite shooting 0-of-12 from 3-point range which ties for his second-highest point total without a three as a Rocket (24 at Golden State on October 17, 2017).
Danuel House Jr. had 22 points and 9 rebounds tonight. He has scored 20 or more points four times this season, including three times over the past 18 games, after doing so once prior in his career. House is averaging 6.7 rebounds over the past nine games after averaging 3.0 rpg the eight games prior.
Ben McLemore scored 22 points today while shooting 4-of-9 from 3-point range. The Rockets improve to 6-0 when he scores 20+ points.
Houston had 11 steals and a season-low 5 turnovers. Over the past three games, the Rockets have committed a total of 20 turnovers while recording 36 steals. Over that span, opponents have recorded 57 turnovers resulting in 63 points for the Rockets. Houston has recorded 10 plus steals in three straight games for the second time this season (December 3 - December 7).
The Rockets shot 20-of-60 from 3-point range. Houston has hit 20 or more threes in two of the past three games after not doing so in any of the 22 games prior (longest streak under D'Antoni). Dating back to last season, the Rockets are 23-2 when having 20+ threes made per game, including 7-0 this season. Houston did not have more than 55 three-point field goal attempts prior this season. A team has attempted 60 or more 3-pointers eight times in NBA history, all since the start of 2016-17; Houston has accounted for six of those games and Atlanta the other two.
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