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Rockets 100, Hornets 96

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HOUSTON -- The newly constructed Houston Rockets showed Wednesday that they can deal with an unexpected reversal of fortunes.

Two nights earlier, the Rockets erased a 17-point deficit, blew past the Heat, then watched as LeBron James led Miami to victory late. On Wednesday night, the Rockets fashioned a seemingly insurmountable lead, only for the New Orleans Hornets to methodically chip away.

After James Harden dragged his teammates to the shadow of the finish line with some splendid scoring and playmaking, Chandler Parsons closed out the Rockets' 100-96 victory with key plays on both ends.

With Houston clinging to a 98-96 lead, Parsons beat the shot clock to make a difficult step-back 18-footer. He added a critical defensive rebound on the Hornets' ensuing possession, and with New Orleans in desperate need of a 3-pointer, Parsons closed out on Al-Farouq Aminu to force a miss with five seconds left.

Harden led all scorers with 30 points and paced the Rockets (4-4) with four assists. Omer Asik scored 15 points and pulled down 12 rebounds for Houston, and Parsons added 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Hornets guard Greivis Vasquez was stellar throughout, pairing 24 points with nine assists. Ryan Anderson added 20 points and 12 rebounds off the bench for New Orleans (3-3).

Midway through the third quarter, the Rockets appeared in control, with Harden and Asik scoring in succession to increase Houston's lead to 72-51. However, Vasquez inspired an 11-0 New Orleans run that turned a blowout into a nail-bitter. Once engaged a second time, the Hornets would not relent, closing the third quarter on a 10-5 spurt before using bench contributions from Brian Roberts and Anderson to pull within four points with just under nine minutes to play.

Harden buried a pull-up jumper before assisting Parsons for a 3-pointer and a 98-88 lead with 3:35 remaining. Vasquez drilled a pair of 3-pointers around a stick-back layup from Anderson, forcing the Rockets to battle down the stretch for the win.

Marcus Morris, a D-League castoff last season as a rookie, continued his early-season emergence with a torrid second quarter. He drilled consecutive jumpers to swipe the lead from the Hornets, including a 3-pointer with 8:45 left in the half that keyed an unexpected 11-2 run, giving Houston a 38-31 lead.

Toney Douglas' 3-pointer was the last basket of that stretch but the first of four consecutive treys drilled by the Rockets. The Hornets attempted to stick close via an Austin Rivers 3-pointer and Anthony Davis' transition dunk, but the Rockets kept surging on New Orleans' defense.

By the time their starters returned the Rockets were rolling. Harden sandwiched seven points around a Patrick Patterson 18-foot jumper before Parsons scored in transition off a nifty Jeremy Lin pass. Suddenly the Hornets, who were aflame in the first quarter behind Vasquez (11 points in that period), were down 16, 59-43, with 1:24 left in the second quarter.

A fitting conclusion came when Morris drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer over the outstretched arm of Hornets backup center Jason Smith. His buzzer-beater made up for the near miss of Carlos Delfino to close the first, as his shot swished home but left his hand a split-second too late. The Rockets led 64-45 at the break with their perimeter contributors -- Harden, Morris and Douglas -- combining for 39 points on just 22 shots.

NOTES: Entering the game, the winning team overcame a deficit of at least 13 points in five of the last six series meetings. The Hornets trailed by 17 before rallying for a 101-93 win in New Orleans on April 6, 2011, before the Rockets returned the favor and erased a 17-point deficit for an 84-77 home win on April 26, 2012. ... With 23 points and 11 rebounds against the Charlotte Bobcats on Nov. 9, Davis became the third rookie in Hornets history to record a double-double in one of his first three performances. Coincidentally, Alonzo Mourning (15 points, 14 rebounds against the Mavericks on Nov. 17, 1992) and Larry Johnson (16 points, 18 rebounds against the Nets on Nov. 2, 1991) accomplished the feat when the Hornets were located in Charlotte.

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