The red-hot Houston Rockets host the cooler Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night. Both of these teams are heading towards opposite ends of the NBA spectrum with the Rockets at the top of the league and the Hornets plummeting towards the bottom.
The Rockets are looking to extend a 10 game win streak and keep their consistent rhythm after holding off the Pelicans despite cold nights from sharpshooter Ryan Anderson and an o-fer night by Luc Mbah a Moute. Although other teammates such as Clint Capela made up for his teammates’ off night by scoring a career high 28 points on a career-high 13 made field goals on 14 attempts. Chris Paul added 20 points, six assist, and nine rebounds. On top of their contributions, it was another night for James Harden to prove he’s even more worthy of the MVP award than he was last year which has been quite the intimidating site to watch for other teams in the league. Harden ended the night with 26 points and 6 steals while tying a career-high 17 assists.
The Rockets have proceeded to utilize smaller lineups as of late and it has rewarded them with splendid play. Head coach Mike D’Antoni placed undersized power forward P.J. Tucker at center which led to the Rockets doing a superior job of getting into the Pelicans defensively. Subsequently, New Orleans produced just 20 points in the fourth quarter after averaging 34.3 through the third quarter. That matched with the Rockets’ high powered offense clicking for 34 fourth quarter points ultimately kept the Rockets in the winning column.
The Hornets are in need of a complete turnaround in their season despite being bitten by the injury bug. Usually, the Hornets are highly reliable on the offensive prowess of point guard Kemba Walker and the dominant performances center Dwight Howard has been able to produce as of late. On Monday night, they were able to complete just their second road win of the season in Oklahoma City with the help of a highly accurate shooting night by the team as a whole. The Hornets managed to sink 53 percent of their shot attempts including 13-out-of-25 from behind the arc. To be honest, that isn’t a stat to rely on every night if you’re a team that is ranked 27 in the league in shooting percentage at 44 percent. That won’t keep the Hornets from staying optimistic that it can happen regardless of the naysayers like myself are pleading.
“I think (Monday night) gave us somewhat of a vision of how we can be,” Walker said. “And now we’ve just got to be consistent. Now we’ve got to go to Houston, and they’re playing as well as anyone in our league at this point. But we’ve got to go in there with the same mindset, play hard, and do what we can to try to go win a game.”
Kemba knows as much as the next person that the Rockets are one of the best and hottest teams in the league currently and it will take more than another offensive explosion from the Hornets to defeat them in Houston. Rockets win, 116-99 capping off their 11th straight victory. Tip-off is at 6:30pm PT.