David West scored a game-high 19 points and Rasual Butler added a season-high 16 to lead the Hornets to a 90-76 win Friday over the Sacramento Kings at Norman, Okla., ending their three-game overall losing streak.
“There were a lot of plays that knocked the wind out of them,” Butler said of playing a short-handed Kings team without three key players. “We kept them at a distance.”
In his third season, West has become a key contributor for the Hornets. The power forward leads the team at 16.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. He has averaged 20.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in six games in January.
New Orleans has tied its season-high with four straight losses on the road since a 98-95 overtime win Dec. 12 at Phoenix. That win also snapped a four-game road losing streak.
The Hornets, who have won three straight against the Rockets, hope to take advantage of a team that has the worst home record at 3-11 and is winless at home since a 91-73 win Dec. 6 over Boston.
Houston dropped its fifth straight at home, 88-80, to Sacramento on Wednesday despite 24 points and 15 rebounds from Juwan Howard and a season-high 18 rebounds from veteran center Dikembe Mutombo. The home losing streak is the worst for the Rockets since a seven-game skid from Nov. 27-Dec. 20, 2001.
“We can’t make any excuses,” Howard said. “We had every chance possible to win this game. But sure enough, we did not close it out.”
The Rockets are hoping leading scorer Tracy McGrady to return to the lineup after suffering a lower back injury on Sunday. McGrady has missed 10 games this season with back injuries and the Rockets are 0-10 in those games. McGrady did score 38 points in a 92-90 loss Dec. 28 to the Hornets.
Houston also will be without all-star center Yao Ming for at least three more weeks after undergoing toe surgery. Yao has already missed 12 games due to the injury.