NBA Basketball

Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Charlotte 19 25 36 26 106
Houston 38 33 22 25 118
5:00 PM PT6:00 PM MT7:00 PM CT8:00 PM ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST4:00 UAE (+1)01:0020:00 ET6:00 PM CT23:00 , March 11, 2019
Toyota Center, Houston, Texas  Attendance: 18,055

Rockets pick up defense, while Hornets look for offense

According to STATS
According to STATS

Charlotte Hornets at Houston Rockets

  1. The Hornets lost to the Bucks on Saturday, 131-114, and have gone 3-6 (.333) since the All-Star break, tied with the Thunder for the fourth-worst record in the NBA. Charlotte got only 35 rebounds in the loss to Milwaukee and has gone 5-9 this season when getting fewer than 40 boards.
  2. Kemba Walker led the Hornets with 25 points in the loss to the Bucks. It was Walker's 143rd career game with 20-plus points in a loss -- since he entered the league in 2011-12, only DeMarcus Cousins (159), Russell Westbrook (152), Damian Lillard (151) and Carmelo Anthony (150) have more such games.
  3. The Rockets have won a season-best eight consecutive games after beating the Mavericks on the road yesterday, 94-93. Houston held three straight opponents under 100 points in wins, something the team had done only three times previously under Coach Mike D'Antoni (since 2016-17).
  4. Eric Gordon led the Rockets with 26 points in the win over Dallas, his third time leading this season. James Harden had led the Rockets outright in scoring in their previous 43 games -- the only player since the merger with a longer streak is Michael Jordan (66 straight in 1987-88).
  5. James Harden leads the NBA with 256 unassisted three-pointers this season while Kemba Walker ranks second with 114. Over the last three seasons, Harden leads the way with 631 unassisted threes, while Walker ranks second with 351 and Chris Paul ranks fifth with 246.
  6. The Hornets allow opponents to score 14.2 points off turnovers per game, fewest in the NBA. The Rockets have gone 34-14 (.708) when scoring at least 15 points off turnovers this season.
(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

This moment, like so many others for the Rockets defensively this season, might prove fleeting, but in the interim, it's easy to understand why Houston is emboldened by its sudden might.

The Rockets stretched their season-best winning streak to eight games with a 94-93 victory in Dallas on Sunday, punctuating the triumph with a Chris Paul block of Jalen Brunson at the buzzer.

Houston has held three consecutive opponents under 100 points, and will seek to match its season-best streak of four games when the Charlotte Hornets visit on Monday.

"We've had a lot of games where it's ugly but we lost early in the season," Rockets guard James Harden said. "But we'll take an ugly win. Played well defensively; offensively we couldn't get it going. It feels good to win on the defensive end."

Following a rugged start to the season that yielded a sub-.500 record by mid-December, the Rockets long ago reclaimed their offensive identity and have ranked second to the Golden State Warriors in offensive efficiency for a lengthy stretch of games.

The recent resurgence defensively, however, has reaffirmed their self-belief and caused the rest of the league to take notice.

Over their last three games, the Rockets have produced a 96.9 defensive rating. Performing at that level on defense while striking a balance offensively is something Houston sought to accomplish this season, with injuries the primary culprit for an inability to meet that objective.

In Dallas, with Harden scoring 20 points to end his 43-game streak of pacing the team in scoring, the Rockets still found a way. When they were scuffling, these paths were too difficult to navigate.

"We're just really putting it together," said Rockets guard Eric Gordon, whose 26 points led the way against the Mavericks. "We're trying to win a championship, and it starts with now. Not that many games left, but it's enough to build habits."

The Hornets have dropped 10 of 14 games since climbing to .500 on Feb. 2 after winning both ends of a home back-to-back against the Memphis Grizzlies and Chicago Bulls.

When Charlotte lost 131-114 in Milwaukee on Saturday, it fell six games below .500 and on the outside of the Eastern Conference postseason picture.

In search of a boost to lift the Hornets' fading playoff hopes, Charlotte coach James Borrego recently returned reserve center Frank Kaminsky to the playing rotation.

Kaminsky has averaged 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds while logging 22.2 minutes over the past five games, a complete turnaround after Kaminsky played just over 26 minutes while seeing action in only four games during a 24-game stretch.

"Well, he's playing with a lot of confidence right now," Borrego said of Kaminski.

"We need him to shoot the ball. We needed some scoring punch off our bench. Our bench had gotten a little dry. We got (Jeremy) Lamb on the second unit now, Tony (Parker) in the second unit ... but we needed another scoring punch out there and Frank's given us that stretching the floor, driving the ball, just giving us more offense right now."

--Field Level Media

Updated March 11, 2019

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