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Rockets 100, Hornets 82

The SportsXchange

NEW ORLEANS -- James Harden scored 17 of his game-high 30 points in the second half to lift the turnover-prone Houston Rockets to a 100-82 victory over the New Orleans Hornets Friday night at the New Orleans Arena.

Winning for only the second time in 10 games, the Rockets broke open the game with a 26-11 spurt in a 5:58 stretch of the third quarter to take their biggest lead of the game, 74-55, with 4:09 left in the third period.

Harden hit a pair of 3s and added two foul shots and a step-back jumper to key the streak, and Marcus Morris and Toney Douglas each hit 3-pointers. The Rockets made 4 of 6 from long range in the quarter and finished 11 of 21 for the game.

Harden was a perfect 12 of 12 from the line, and he led the Rockets in scoring for the 22nd consecutive game. That helped erase 22 Rockets turnovers.

The Hornets scored eight straight points to cut the deficit to 76-65, but Jeremy Lin closed the quarter with two foul shots and a layup after a bad inbounds pass, and Houston went back up, 80-65, at the end of the third quarter.

The closest the Hornets (14-29) got the rest of the way was 10 points, 88-78, with 3:39 left.

The Rockets (23-22) led 48-40 at halftime despite committing 14 turnovers, seven by Harden. But they shot 50 percent from the floor (16 of 32) and held the Hornets to 37.5 percent shooting (15 of 40), and they outrebounded New Orleans 24-15.

Gordon, who scored 16 first-half points, kept the Hornets within striking distance, deciding to take the ball to the basket at every opportunity when he sensed the officials were calling things tightly. He wiggled into the lane and either drew a foul or dished to Anthony Davis, who had eight first-half points, for a layup.

Gordon finished with 20 points to lead the Hornets. Ryan Anderson added 19.

Davis' thunderous dunk with 3:05 left in the second quarter drew the Hornets within 38-36, but the Rockets closed the half on a 10-4 run to pad their lead. Harden had 13 first-half points for Houston, with most of his damage coming from the foul line, where he made all seven foul shots.

Notes: Houston coach Kevin McHale had some fun contemplating the Hornets' decision to change their nickname to the Pelicans -- the Louisiana state bird -- after the season. Asked what he thought of the Pelicans, McHale said, "Vicious bird -- 'Pelicans, watch out or we'll dump on you.' " McHale said he really didn't know a lot about pelicans. "A pelican's like big bird that hangs on your shoulder, isn't it?" he asked. "I like hawks and eagles and stuff like that. A pelican's not a bird of prey, is it?" Told that a pelican will dive into the water to snag fish, McHale smiled and said, "Pelicans -- watch out and we'll dive after you." ... Hornets coach Monty Williams said small forward Al-Farouq Aminu has the ability to be a double-digit rebounder. "It's the one thing that he really works at," Williams said. "He does a good job of rebounding outside of his area, and he's got the energy for it. Most small forwards don't rebound the way he does. As his IQ grows, he'll rebound even more. That's what he did in college. And we need it."
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