The Hornets shot better, especially from the 3-point line. And unlike their past few games, they attempted more free throws than they did 3-point shots in their preseason game Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets at New Orleans Arena.
However, two ills that have plagued coach Monty Williams’ team showed up again, as New Orleans lost 97-90 to the Rockets.
The Hornets (3-4) again had a bad third quarter, the third time in its four consecutive losses that has happened. And, again they short-circuited themselves with turnovers, committing a preseason-high 26, which led to 32 Rockets points.
“Obviously, the turnovers were a big problem,” said forward Ryan Anderson, the loss spoiling his best performance of the preseason — a game-high 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including 5-of-7 on 3-point attempts. “Turnovers led to a lot of Houston buckets, and that was the difference in the game.”
There were some encouraging performances. Rookie power forward Anthony Davis had another good showing with 13 points and eight rebounds, which tied for the lead with Anderson and center Robin Lopez. And, point guard Greivis Vasquez had 13 points and 11 assists. However, he led the turnovers parade with eight.
And, the Hornets shot 46.5 percent from the field and, led by Anderson, 47.1 on 3-point attempts.
New Orleans came out with much of the intensity Williams has demanded of late, and was able to eek out a 45-43 halftime lead against the Rockets, which had blown out the Hornets 95-75 on Oct. 12 in Houston.
But led by small forward Chandler Parsons, Houston (4-2) went on a 17-4 run to start the third and bolt to a 60-49 lead by the 8:47 mark. Parsons had two 3-pointers in the run, Kevin Martin sank one, and Omer Asik had a dunk, as the Rockets suddenly found themselves with wide open shots.
The lead grew to as much as 68-53 before Anderson helped lead the Hornets back from the outside.
Martin said the Rockets didn’t really make any halftime adjustments of which to speak.
“We just came out more focused,” said Martin, who scored 11 of his 15 points in the third. “We knew they would play better than they did the first time we played them, because they didn’t have Davis then, and he’s a special player for them.
“We knew we had to keep them out of the lane and also from getting offensive rebounds, and we did better in the second half.”
Backup point point guard Carlos Delfino led the Rockets with 20 points, including four 3-pointers. Parsons had 18 points, making four of six 3-point attempts. Center Omer Asik had 15 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
The Hornets came to eight points of the lead several times in the fourth quarter, finally cutting it to the final score on two free throws by Vasquez with 48.3 seconds left. However, they could not overcome the deep hole dug in the third.
With Anderson getting hot from the 3-point line, the Hornets took a 45-43 halftime lead.
He sank three 3s in the quarter and four in the first half.
The Hornets took a 19-16 lead at the end of the first quarter after trailing 12-10 with 1:12 left. Anderson and Robert sank 3-pointers around a Houston basket for a 16-14 lead with 21 seconds showing.
Then, Houston’s Shaun Livingston was fouled on a drive and made two free throws to tie the score with 3.9 seconds left. However, Xavier Henry went coast to coast after the inbound pass and was fouled at the rim by Parsons.
He made the first free throw, but missed the second. Davis, however, not only got the offensive rebound, but banked the ball off glass before his feet hit the ground, and the Hornets led 19-16 at the end of the first.
The Hornets started the game plagued by the same ills they’ve struggled with of late, committing seven turnovers in the first quarter. However, they seemed to make up for it with aggressiveness, if not intensity.
Vasquez led the way, taking advantage of picks and his sheer will in scoring seven points. It was a closely played quarter, with Houston’s 8-5 lead the biggest until the Hornets forged ahead at the end.
The Hornets end the preseason Friday night at the NBA champion Miami Heat.
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