Hornets coach Monty Williams said one of the things he stressed to his team in practice before returning from the All-Star break was the importance of holding opponents to fewer than 90 points.
The team took heed during the first two games after the break, holding the Clippers to 87 points and the Timberwolves to 81 in back-to-back double-digit victories. But it was a 91-89 loss to the Rockets on Sunday night in the New Orleans Arena that might have driven the point home most strongly.
The Hornets, who led by as many as 16 points, appeared on their way to another victory in a low-scoring game before allowing the Rockets to score 51 second-half points and surpass the 90-point threshold. New Orleans (35-26) is 23-1 when it allows 90 or fewer points.
The Hornets held the Rockets to 21, 19, and 22 points in the first three quarters, but gave up 29 in the fourth quarter as Houston made 10-of-17 field goals, including 4-of-7 three-pointers.
"At the start of the fourth quarter, they were a lot more active than we were," guard Chris Paul said. "We didn't defend the way we know we can in the second half.
"We just didn't get stops. We're a team that is at our best when we get stops and get out in transition and we didn't do that."
The Hornets begin a five-game road trip when they visit Toronto on Tuesday.
"Losing at home knowing we're getting ready to go on the road, this could have given us a little bit more momentum," guard Willie Green said. "It's inconsistent on our part just to not come out and win that game."
ROCKETS 91, HORNETS 89: The Hornets scored just 34 second-half points as they watched a 15-point halftime lead evaporate. Despite scoring just 17 third-quarter points they still took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter, but the Rockets made seven of their first eight shots, including all four three-pointers that they attempted, to start the fourth quarter. The score was tied at 85 with more than two minutes remaining, but the Hornets could only manage one driving basket by David West until his tip-in at the buzzer completed the scoring.
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