HOUSTON - In need of someone to help reverse an epic collapse, the Rockets turned to forward Patrick Patterson and he delivered a 109-95 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday night at Toyota Center.
After the Bobcats bridged the final two periods with a 29-9 run that flipped a 15-point deficit into a 86-81 lead on consecutive 3-pointers from Ben Gordon, the Rockets (26-23) began their recovery. Patterson, in particular, was critical to those efforts, starting with his post basket at the 7:25 mark that squared the Rockets and Bobcats (11-35) at 88-all.
Patterson continued his memorable roll soon thereafter, drilling back-to-back corner 3-pointers before converting an offensive rebound into a dunk with 4:42 remaining. Patterson added a dunk in transition off a feed from James Harden, who recorded his first career triple-double, and tallied a shot clock buzzer beater to push Houston to a 101-93 lead.
Patterson scored 12 consecutive points down the stretch en route to sharing game-high honors with teammate Chandler Parsons and Bobcats guard Kemba Walker (24 points). Harden added 21 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists while Rockets center Omer Asik paired 19 points with 15 rebounds. Houston finished plus-15 on the boards.
The Bobcats' backcourt depth sizzled, with Ramon Sessions, Jeffery Taylor and Gordon combining for 46 points off the Charlotte bench.
The Rockets' penchant for transition scoring paid immediate dividends and yielded 13 fast-break points in the opening quarter. Houston appeared set to run the Bobcats out of the building after opening a 16-4 lead less than five minutes into the game, but Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap called a timeout to insert reserves and stem the Rockets' tide.
That scenario played out again in the third with the Rockets building their 11-point halftime lead to a 72-57 advantage on two Harden free throws.
Buoyed by its backcourt scoring, Charlotte closed that period with a 20-7 run on the strength of the guards' handiwork. Walker was the linchpin, but Gerald Henderson, Sessions and Taylor all contributed.
NOTES: Although the Rockets rank second in the NBA in fast break points at 18.7 per game, they remain a work in progress with their half-court offense. When opponents slow the Rockets down they struggle, and coach Kevin McHale has a list of areas in which his team can improve. "More ball movement, more body movement, less turnovers, less playing in a crowd, more going from side to side," McHale said. "More a couple of those things." ... While it comes as no shock that sturdy Rockets guard James Harden leads the league in three-point plays, it is surprising that Bobcats guard Kemba Walker ranks fourth in that category. Walker, listed at 6-foot-1 and 184 pounds, relies on extraordinary balance to score through contact. "At UConn he would be hit in pockets but his shoulders always stayed square like a running back," Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap said. "Kemba has that uncanny ability to go up in the air, get hit, and keep facing the rim to finish."