HOUSTON (AP) -- Down by 18 points to the Houston Rockets late in
the third quarter, New Orleans backup big man Chris Andersen
refused to look at the scoreboard.
In his first season with the last-place Hornets, Andersen has
gradually learned that glancing up at the score usually leads to
discouragement. So the floppy-haired forward did what he does best:
sky high for rebounds, fight hard in the post and race down the
court with unbridled enthusiasm.
Anderson had 16 rebounds and nine points, Lee Nailon scored 16
points and Dan Dickau added 14, helping the Hornets rally past the
Houston Rockets 76-73 Friday night.
"Were we 18 down?" Andersen asked. "I was not even thinking
about coming from behind. I was just trying to get the 'W."
The Hornets' reserves pulled off a stunning comeback against an
undersized Houston team that was clearly missing center Yao Ming.
Yao sat out with a sore right calf, only the second time he's
missed a game in his three-year career.
The Rockets really could've used their 7-foot-6 All-Star, as
they were outrebounded 55-43, shot only 30.8 percent and never
could get close enough to the hoop down the stretch to make any
Houston missed a chance to send the game into overtime when Jon
Barry came up short on a desperation 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds
"It's one of the most disappointing losses I've been a part of
this year," McGrady said. "We allowed those guys to gain
confidence and come in here and not get discouraged. I couldn't
tell you what happened."
On a 50s-themed night at the Toyota Center when the cheerleaders
wore poodle skirts and rock 'n' roll was the music of choice, the
Rockets and Hornets also turned back the clock with an unsightly
display of offense.
Houston held New Orleans to 11 first-quarter points on
19-percent shooting. The Rockets weren't much better, going into
halftime with a 33-28 lead despite shooting just 28.6 percent.
The Rockets led by as much as 18 late in the third quarter, but
the plucky Hornets rallied behind an 11-0 spurt early in the fourth
and took a 61-60 lead on a short jumper by PJ Brown.
New Orleans clawed ahead in the fourth without its entire
starting lineup, getting only a few seconds from point guard Speedy
Claxton in the final minute when Houston applied its pressure
defense. No Hornets starter scored more than seven points, the
first time that's happened in the NBA this season.
"We put the second unit in there and they did a heck of a
job," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "Our starters just didn't
have it tonight. Hopefully our starters will be rested tomorrow
because they didn't play much tonight."
New Orleans took the lead for good on Dickau's running layin,
putting the Hornets ahead 65-64 and drawing loud boos from the
sellout crowd of 18,148. Once the Hornets were ahead, Andersen and
Brown seemed to come down with every missed shot or free throw,
preventing Houston from mounting a comeback.
"That was only because Yao wasn't out there," Andersen
During sequence in the final 2 minutes, Andersen had his shot
swatted away by Mutombo, rebounded the miss, went back up and was
fouled. He made the two free throws and on the next possession, got
Mutombo to foul out after he grabbed another offensive rebound.
Andersen made the first free throw, missed the second -- but
Brown chased down the ball and was fouled, giving him a pair of
free throws. Brown made both, putting New Orleans ahead 74-65.
New Orleans won for just the second time in 16 games
against Southwest division opponents. ... The Hornets snapped a
six-game losing streak against the Rockets. ... Former President
George Bush and wife Barbara were among those in the sellout crowd.
They left their seats at halftime and didn't return. ... Houston
lost for the first time in 15 games when holding an opponent under
80 points. ... Hornets rookie J.R. Smith, who was averaging 22.3
points in his last six games, had only four points on 1-for-8