The Rockets' offense was never right, not from the start and not when they led by 12 points with less than four minutes left in the third quarter.
Cracks began to appear even as their win streak reached five games during a high-scoring stretch of 10 wins in 12 games. Their turnover total had been creeping up again, with an average of 18 in the previous three games.
There had been games like Wednesday night's 88-79 loss to the Hornets earlier this season at Minnesota and at Toyota Center against these same Hornets when the break bogged down and 3-pointers missed their mark. But James Harden had kept the offense going long enough for someone off the bench to jump in and turn things around.
The Rockets might have had every reason to expect that to happen again Wednesday, especially when they appeared to get things going in the second half. But the offense that carried them for weeks came apart late and had too many turnovers, allowing the Hornets to light up the fourth quarter and roll to an easy victory at New Orleans Arena.
The loss ended the Rockets' winning streak while extending their road losing streak against Southwest Division opponents to 12 games.
10 points in final period
The Rockets scored fewer points in the first half (36) and second quarter (14) than they have in any game this season. In the fourth quarter, they managed only 10 points — five fewer than the previous low they had against New Orleans in November. Just to get that, the Rockets needed four meaningless points in the final minute.
"We didn't move the ball. We didn't move our bodies," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "We had some careless turnovers. We weren't making passes; I don't know how we thought we were going to make some of those passes. It's going to catch you, and it caught us tonight."
10-point 4th quarter dooms Rockets against Hornets
Houston Chronicle | Jan 10