Hornets 88, Rockets 79By Peter Finney Jr., The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Wed, Jan 9, 2013 10:40 PM EST
NEW ORLEANS -- Roger Mason came off the bench to score a season-high 17 points, including 13 in a decisive 22-2 fourth-quarter run, to power the New Orleans Hornets to an 88-79 victory over the Houston Rockets Wednesday night at the New Orleans Arena. The Hornets, who won their third consecutive game, trailed 69-59 entering the fourth quarter, but Mason caught fire. Mason hit three 3-pointers and two other jumpers during the spurt, and the Hornets rolled to an 81-71 lead with 4:19 left. The Hornets (10-25) missed their first eight 3-point attempts of the game, but Mason found the range and began torching the Rockets from the perimeter. The Hornets outscored the Rockets (21-15) 29-10 in the fourth quarter, holding Houston to its lowest output of the season. The Rockets are the NBA's highest- scoring team with a 106.2 point average. James Harden scored 25 points for the Rockets, breaking the franchise record with 14 consecutive games in which he has scored at least 25 points. The Rockets used a 10-0 spurt early in the third quarter to take a 46-38 lead and outscored the Hornets 33-25 in the period to lead 69-59. The run started with a 3-pointer from the left wing by Marcus Morris, and the Hornets went empty on four straight possessions. New Orleans scored the first six points of the fourth quarter, with four coming on two jumpers by Mason, to cut their deficit to 69-65. The Hornets held the Rockets to their lowest first-half output of the season -- 36 points. The Rockets committed 14 turnovers in the first half and shot just 36.1 percent from the floor (13-of-36), but they led 36-34 at halftime on the strength of 5-for-12 shooting from 3-point range. New Orleans misfired on all eight of its 3-point attempts in the first half, and Gordon struggled with his shot early, going 1-for-8 from the field. Harden showcased his strength by driving in the lane at will en route to 15 first-half points. Center Robin Lopez made his first four shots to get the Hornets off to a 16-10 start, but Houston closed the first quarter on a 12-2 run -- with seven points from Harden -- to take a 22-18 lead. NOTES: Rockets guard James Harden entered Wednesday's game having scored 25 or more points in 13 consecutive games, which tied Moses Malone's franchise record. "He does it in different ways," said Rockets coach Kevin McHale. "There are nights he'll make 3s; there are nights he gets to the line 18 times; there are nights he gets layups. He keeps the pressure on the defense. He's got the unique ability to make shots and put pressure on the defense. He can attack and score against bigs, which a lot of guards can't do. A lot of guards get in there and the bigs really intimidate them. He can really finish. He's a special, special talent." ... The Rockets had won 10 of 12 coming into Wednesday night's game, but they face a stretch of seven of eight on the road. Asked how he viewed the tough road stretch, McHale said: "Play New Orleans, get on a plane tonight and go play Boston on Friday. That's the NBA." ... The Hornets were 3-1 in Eric Gordon's first four games since returning from a right knee injury that sidelined him for two months. He sat out a Jan. 2 game against the Rockets because it was the second game of a back-to-back. "Now that Eric Gordon's back, they've got another guy that can finish," McHale said. "They're coming around."
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