Rockets end seven-game losing streak

John Delong, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - One way or the other, a losing streak had to come to an end on Monday afternoon.
It wound up being the Houston Rockets who were able to snap a seven-game losing streak, as they rallied to beat the Charlotte Bobcats 100-94 and hand the Bobcats a franchise-record 15th straight home loss at Time Warner Cable Arena.
James Harden fought through a rough day from the field to score 29 points, including 10 in the final six minutes and four in the final minute - all from the free-throw line.
Harden was 5-of-20 from the field, but 19-of-21 from the free-throw line.
"It feels like we just won the championship," Harden said. "It feels good. We've kinda been in our losing ways, and just to get this one off our back and get to go home now with a little bit of confidence and get our swagger back, it feels good. This was a much needed win and it gives us confidence."
The Rockets (22-21) were closing out a four-game road trip and a stretch in which they played seven of their last eight games on the road.
They trailed by as many as 12 in the first half, and their shooting percentage was in the low 30s until about midway through the third quarter. But they were able to outscore Charlotte 26-13 in the fourth quarter, and they scored the last five points of the game.
"Playing the way we were, we were missing layups, bouncing the ball off our knee, it was kinda like a comedy act there for a while," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "We couldn't get things to go. But that happens. We've been in a funk and now we've got a chance to work our way out of it. We know we've got to improve, and we will.
"I thought the guys at the end played really hard. We've just been going through a stretch where not a lot was going our way. But hopefully we can build on this."
The comeback offset a career-high 35 point performance by the Bobcats' Kemba Walker, who was 6-of-7 from 3-point range.
Marcus Morris came off the bench to score 21 for the Rockets. Carlos Delfino scored 16, including a 3-pointer with 1:54 remaining that gave the Rockets the lead for good at 96-94. Chandler Parsons scored 14, and Patrick Beverley 10.
The Rockets were 32-of-41 from the free-throw line, with more than half of those free throws shot by Harden. Harden was 10-of-10 from the line in the final quarter.
"We got in the penalty really early in the fourth quarter, and we said let's just try to get to the line as much as we can," McHale said. "Twenty-one times is pretty amazing. He had 29 points and he was 5-of-20 from the field. That's pretty hard to do."
The Bobcats seemed primed to snap their homecourt losing streak after getting off to an uncharacteristicly fast start and leading 56-45 at halftime.
But they were a dismal 4-of-19 from the field in the fourth quarter (21.1 percent). They didn't score on their last five possessions after Walker's jumper gave them a 94-93 lead with 2:12 left.
Coach Mike Dunlap blamed the Bobcats' demise on lack of balance. The Bobcats had only two players in double figures - Walker with 35 and Ramon Sessions with 19. Walker and Sessions were the only two Bobcats to score in the fourth quarter.
"Kemba and Sessions got going, but we needed that third scorer," Dunlap said. "It's not an individual with our team, it's just finding who that third scorer is. Whether it's going to the rim and scoring off the block or hitting threes or middle jumpers, there's a number of ways and a number of different guys that have done that for us in the fourth, and we just didn't have it tonight."
The Bobcats are now 10-31 and still haven't won a home game since Nov. 21, when they beat Toronto.
Notes: Gerald Henderson started for the Bobcats after being a "game-time decision" because of lingering back problems. Henderson recently revealed that he has had a bulging disk in his back since his college days at Duke. ... The Rockets will now head home to play Denver on Wednesday night. After that comes another difficult stretch with seven of the following 11 on the road. ... The Rockets and Bobcats will meet again in Houston on Feb. 2. ... The Rockets were without Greg Smith, who was not with the team because of family matters. ... The Bobcats were playing the second game of a four-game homestand. They'll remain home to play Atlanta on Wednesday night and Minnesota on Saturday night. ... Byron Mullens missed his 14th straight game for the Bobcats with a sprained left ankle and Dunlap said Mullens' return was "a long way away."

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