Dwight Howard reminded one of his former teams how good he can still be, but otherwise the Charlotte Hornets had no chance Wednesday.
The Rockets went on a 25-0 run in the first half to dominate the Hornets in Houston 108-96 at the Toyota Center. The Hornets have now lost 13 consecutive games in Houston.
The Rockets are one of four NBA franchises where center Howard played before being traded to Charlotte in June. He finished with a season-high 26 points, plus 18 rebounds and three blocks.
The Rockets won their 11th in a row, improving to an NBA-best 22-4. Chris Paul finished with 31 points and 11 assists. James Harden added 21 points and eight assists.
The road has been particularly rough for the 10-17 Hornets this season; they have two victories in 13 games away from Spectrum Center.
Three who mattered
Paul: In every sense – playmaking, scoring, defense – the former Wake Forest star showed why he’s such a special point guard.
Harden: He made up for a slow start, and set up open teammates with plenty of perimeter looks.
Howard: He was two points short of a 20-10 game at halftime. He was making his jump hook and grabbing offensive rebounds.
▪ The Rockets’ bench outscored the Hornets reserves 19-4 in the first half.
▪ The Hornets originally listed Nic Batum (elbow) as doubtful, but he was able to start Wednesday. Batum missed Monday’s victory in Oklahoma City, and has had constant pain in his left elbow since returning from a torn ligament suffered in the preseason.
▪ The Hornets missed 15 consecutive 3-point attempts. Batum broke that string midway through the fourth quarter.
▪ The Hornets play six of the next seven at home; the only road game before a four-game West Coast trip around the New Year is at Milwaukee Dec. 22.
▪ The Rockets pulled away to a 38-23 lead at the end of the first quarter, primarily on three awful minutes late in the period by the Hornets’ second unit.
▪ This game was nationally televised on ESPN, and one of only three games this season when the Hornets play in the classic uniforms clothier Alexander Julian designed in the 1980s.
▪ Hornets rookie Malik Monk committed two fouls in his first two minutes, late in the first quarter.
▪ The Rockets outscored the Hornets 30-3 from 3-point range in the first half. The Hornets were 1-of-11 from the arc in the first half (Kemba Walker with the only make).
C OFFENSE: They missed too many 3s to have any real chance to keep pace with the Rockets
D DEFENSE: The Hornets couldn’t cover pick-and-rolls without giving up constant wide-open 3-point looks for the Rockets.
C COACHING: They were facing the NBA’s hottest team, but couldn’t maintain momentum from beating the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday.
Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129, @rick_bonnell