Hornets to Clash with Soaring Rockets in Houston
By Sam Perley
The Charlotte Hornets will look to close out a challenging two-game road stretch on a positive note as they head south to face the surging Houston Rockets starting tonight at 8 p.m. ET.
Houston won in Charlotte, 118-113, back on Feb. 27, getting 30 points from James Harden and another 23 from Swiss center Clint Capela. Kemba Walker tallied a game-high 35 points and Jeremy Lamb had 18 points and a season-best 14 rebounds off the bench, but the Hornets couldn’t fully overcome another slow start and 18 total turnovers on the night.
Nicolas Batum had 17 points, six rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks in this particular outing and since the All-Star Break, is averaging 13.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 4.2 APG and 1.3 SPG over nine outings. The Frenchman is also shooting 41.3 percent from three during this stretch (26-of-63), while averaging 3.8 FGA and 3.3 3PA more per game than he did before the mid-February break.
Thanks to his lengthy, 6-8 stature, Batum will likely switch defensively onto Harden for a large amount of defensive possession in this one. The reigning NBA MVP is making a strong case for a second straight award this season as he leads the league in scoring by over 8.0 PPG (36.6) and is putting up 6.5 RPG, 7.5 APG and 2.2 SPG in 37.4 MPG (second most amongst all players).
Heading into Sunday’s game in Dallas, Harden is shooting just 28.4 percent from distance on 13.6 attempts over his last eight outings. Batum and the other Charlotte wings need to be ready for plenty of iso-possessions, spot-up threes and drive-and-kicks from the seven-time All-Star as they look to grab a rare win at the Toyota Center.
Game Note – The Hornets have dropped all but one of their last 16 meetings with the Rockets. They haven’t won in Houston since Dec. 22, 2004 (13 consecutive losses)… Houston has won seven straight games heading into Sunday’s showdown with the Mavericks and sit second in the NBA in net rating since the All-Star Break (7.3)… Marvin Williams needs one 3PM tonight to tie Jason Richardson for the third-longest consecutive-games streak with at least one 3PM (34).
Classic Fact – Stephen Jackson scored a career-high 43 points in a 102-94 victory over the Houston Rockets on Jan. 12, 2010. This was the highest-scoring game by any Charlotte player during the Bobcats era (2004-14).