Following two impressive wins, the New Orleans Hornets are hoping to avoid a letdown during an easy stretch of their schedule.
The Hornets head to the Toyota Center on Friday night in search of a fifth consecutive win over the Southwest Division-rival Houston Rockets in the first of four straight games against opponents currently with losing records.
Thornton scored a season-high 22 points - including seven of the Hornets’ 11 in the extra period. He had played sparingly in his four previous contests, but was brought into the game after Marco Belinelli(notes) sprained his right ankle just over a minute after tipoff.
The Hornets, who rank second in the league with 92.2 points allowed per game, held the Nuggets and Magic to a combined 39.8 percent shooting from the floor.
“Those are really good numbers but it’s something we can’t be satisfied with because the problem we’ve had this year is we’ll have a really good game like (Wednesday) night and then we’ll go to Houston and not defend,” said assistant coach Mike Malone.
David West(notes) has also enjoyed success versus the Rockets, against whom he is averaging 26.8 points - 10.6 more than his career mark - during his last five games. He scored a career-high 44 and Paul had a triple-double with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a 108-100 loss in Houston on Dec. 29, 2009.
Rookie coach Monty Williams was pleased with the victory over the Magic, but wants to see his team display the same intensity going forward.
“The test for us is winning a game like (the one against Orlando) and then having the same sense of urgency if not more going into these next games,” he said.
The Hornets visit Charlotte on Saturday before hosting Toronto and Memphis.
New Orleans is averaging 107.8 points on 49.2 percent shooting during its four-game run against Houston (17-22).
Belinelli, who has started all 39 games and is averaging a career-high 11.0 points, is uncertain to play Friday.
Martin, who averages 23.2 points per game, sat out his second consecutive contest with a sore right wrist. His status for Friday is unclear.
The Rockets are surrendering 108.8 points during a 2-7 stretch, and the defensive woes are starting to take their toll.
Scola is second on the team in scoring with 19.4 points per game, but is averaging only 10.9 in 13 games against the Hornets.
He scored only nine points, but pulled down 16 rebounds in the Rockets’ 107-99 home loss to New Orleans on Nov. 3.
Houston has dropped three straight and four of five at home after an eight-game run from Nov. 24-Dec, 27.