Charlotte Hornets

Houston Rockets hold off Charlotte Hornets, who drop third in a row

Marvin William on injured foot

Charlotte Hornets’ Marvin Williams plan to play versus the Houston Rockets after he was listed as doubtful with a right foot-and-toe injury.
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Charlotte Hornets’ Marvin Williams plan to play versus the Houston Rockets after he was listed as doubtful with a right foot-and-toe injury.

The Houston Rockets got 30 points on an off shooting night from superstar James Harden to hold off the Charlotte Hornets 118-113 Wednesday at Spectrum Center.

Hornets guard Kemba Walker finished with 35 points, but missed two 3-pointers in the final minute. The Hornets dropped their third in a row, falling to 28-33.

Rockets center Clint Capela had his best game back from a right thumb injury, finishing with 23 points and 17 rebounds.

Jeremy Lamb had his strongest game since going to the Hornets’ second unit, finishing with 18 points, 14 rebounds and six assists.

Harden shot just 1-of-11 from the 3-point line, but he was 9-of-9 at the foul line, including two key possessions when he hiht four free throws late.

Three who mattered

Walker: His first half was up there with some of his best career performances.

Nic Batum: His fourth consecutive double-figure scoring game and strong defense on Harden.

Capela: Excellent work from the Rockets center returning from a long injury.


The Hornets got some great news Wednesday morning when power forward Marvin Williams said he’d be able to play against the Rockets after the team listed him as doubtful with a right foot injury. Williams said he first suffered that injury weeks ago against the Indiana Pacers, and it worsened to a point Monday that he couldn’t move properly in the second half against the Golden State Warriors.

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni shifted his lineup for this game, moving Eric Gordon back to a starter. He said that was in part so that Gordon can be the primary defender against opposing point guards, which takes some burden off Chris Paul.

The Rockets have taken about 400 more 3-pointers this season than any other NBA team and the fewest mid-range jump shots. Houston is the extreme, but that is the way the NBA has trended for awhile. As Hornets coach James Borrego said pre-game, it’s the math -- the value of made 3s, relative to shooting percentage — and it’s hard to imagine the league ever trending back to heavy doses of mid-range jumpers, which used to be the foundation of most offenses.

The Hornets were down as much as 15 in the first half. A 15-point run changed that and Walker was incredible even by his standards in hitting 9-of-10 in the first half and 4-of-5 from 3 for 27 points before halftime.

Worth mentioning

The Hornets sent rookie point guard Devonte Graham back to the G-League Greensboro Swarm Wednesday. They kept the other little-used player, Dwayne Bacon, in Charlotte, probably as extra front-court depth in case Williams was unable to play.

The Hornets honored longtime team physician Dr. Glenn Perry, who retired from medicine recently.

Malik Monk’s struggles of late continued in the first half; he missed both shots in five minutes on the court and had a rough time staying in front of Chris Paul. He played a minute in the second half.

They said it

“I’ve always thought I could play through pain. I just felt like I wasn’t moving the way I should be moving.” – Williams on the right foot injury that threatened him not playing versus the Rockets.

“It’s almost (like) you have to save Marvin from himself sometimes.” – Hornets coach James Borrego on sitting the injured Williams for most of the fourth quarter Monday against the Warriors.

“He feels more comfortable that way (and) I feel more comfortable that way.” – Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni on his decision to move Eric Gordon back into the starting lineup.

Report card

B OFFENSE: They shot well and had strong ball-movement, but that drought in the fourth quarter was problematic.

C DEFENSE: They recovered from a terrible first quarter and rebounded well, but wilted early in the fourth.

C COACHING: These awful first quarters are too frequent if they expect to make the playoffs.

More text here.

Rick Bonnell is a sportswriter/columnist for the Charlotte Observer. He has been in Charlotte since 1988, when the NBA arrived, and has covered the Hornets continuously. A former president of the Pro Basketball Writers Association, Bonnell also writes occasionally on the NFL and college sports.
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