Notebook: Rockets 100, Hornets 96

Posted Nov 15, 2012 9:58 AM

Matt Miller, for

THE FACTS: James Harden drove to the basket at will. Marcus Morris played stingy defense and swatted shots. Toney Douglas and Chandler Parsons drained pivotal jumpers. Omer Asik did the dirty work inside. On Jeremy Lin bobblehead night in Houston, the rest of the Rockets stole the spotlight.

Harden scored 30 points on 10-for-20 shooting, and Asik poured in 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as the Rockets smacked the New Orleans Hornets in the second quarter before holding off a furious second-half rally to claim a 100-96 victory Wednesday at Toyota Center. Reserves Morris (13 points, career-best three blocks) and Douglas (12 points, 4-for-5 from 3-point range) combined to score 25 points for Houston (4-4), which has won two of its last three games.

Greivis Vasquez poured in a career-high 24 points, and Ryan Anderson finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds to lead New Orleans (3-3), which whittled a 21-point third-quarter deficit to two with less than two minutes remaining before ultimately falling short.

QUOTABLE: "[Holding onto leads] is just an area we have to grow in. ... When things start getting tight, we tend to get into our own phone booths instead of trusting each other."
-- Rockets stand-in coach Kelvin Sampson on his team's inexperience, which allowed the Hornets to turn a rout into a tight contest.

THE STAT: Houston has connected on at least 10 3-point attempts in back-to-back games and is shooting 34.5 percent (40-for-116) from behind the arc over its last four games. The Rockets were especially accurate from long distance in the first half Wednesday, when they sank seven of 16 attempts.

TURNING POINT: After a sluggish start on both ends of the court, the Rockets got their offense rolling by cranking up the defensive intensity during the second quarter. In addition to receiving big contributions from its backups, Houston limited the Hornets to 4-for-17 shooting and scored 12 points off five New Orleans turnovers in the period. This, combined with Harden's ability to slice through the Hornets' defense for several layups, allowed the Rockets to bust the game open as they outscored New Orleans 39-18 in the second. The Hornets put together a valiant effort in the second half to get back into the game, but Houston's dominant second period proved to be the difference.

QUOTABLE II: "We're out there playing like we're the [Harlem] Globetrotters or something in the second quarter. [Houston] was trying to kick our butt, and we have to have a mindset of playing a tough, nasty style of basketball. I just didn't see that in the second quarter."
-- Hornets coach Monty Williams on the cause of his squad's second-period collapse.

HOT: Vasquez was aggressive from tipoff, finishing with a career-best 24 points on 8-for-15 shooting to go with nine assists and five boards. The 6-foot-6 point guard has handed out an average of 8.0 assists over his last five games.

NOT: Lin needed his teammates to pick up the slack on his bobblehead night, as the third-year point guard had trouble maintaining his defensive position against Vasquez. Lin's recent shooting slump continued, as well. Including Wednesday's 2-for-10 effort, Lin has connected on only 28.0 percent (7-for-25) of his shots over the last three games.

GOOD MOVE: The Hornets had more success in limiting Harden's opportunities at the basket after halftime by swarming him with defenders when he attempted to penetrate into the paint. The adjustments translated to the scoreboard, with Harden netting only four points in the third period.

BAD MOVE: Houston controlled the boards in the second quarter, one of several reasons why it was able to build a 21-point lead. But the young Rockets became increasingly complacent and timid until their lead had nearly disappeared. Although Houston stopped the bleeding midway through the final period and pulled out the win, it should have landed the knockout blow when the gritty Hornets were reeling.

NOTABLE: Vasquez left the game briefly during the third period to get his ankle taped. He returned and logged more than seven minutes in the fourth. ... The Hornets have blocked 43 shots (7.2 bpg) through six games this season. ... The Rockets improved to 3-2 this season in games in which it led at halftime. ... Houston became the first team this season to reach 100 points against New Orleans, which entered Wednesday limiting opponents to only 88.6 points per contest. ... The Rockets set season highs of 64 points in the first half and 39 points in the second quarter.

UP NEXT: For the Hornets, Friday vs. Oklahoma City, Saturday @ Milwaukee, Tuesday vs. New York. For the Rockets, Friday @ Portland, Sunday @ L.A. Lakers, Monday @ Utah.