Final

Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 11/5

Game 1: Saturday, November 5th
Hornets91Final
Rockets84
Game 2: Wednesday, December 28th
Rockets90Final
Hornets92
Game 3: Saturday, January 14th
Hornets86Final
Rockets80
Game 4: Thursday, March 23rd
Rockets93Final
Hornets92

Hornets 86

(17-19, 6-12 away)

Rockets 80

(12-23, 3-12 home)

    Coverage: FSSW

    7:30 PM ET, January 14, 2006

    Toyota Center, Houston, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    NO 18 13 28 2786
    HOU 13 23 24 2080

    Top Performers

    NO/Oklahoma City : P. Brown 13 Pts, 10 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 Blk

    Houston: J. Howard 22 Pts, 10 Reb, 1 Stl

    Hornets scrape by hobbled Rockets in Houston

    HOUSTON (AP) -- Chris Paul has a simple remedy for playing with torn ligaments in his right thumb. He'll simply put the injury out of his mind.

    Playing with a bandage and a plastic brace on the thumb, Paul had 17 points, six rebounds and five assists Saturday night to lead the New Orleans Hornets over the Houston Rockets 86-80.

    Paul hurt his thumb on Jan. 6. He missed only one game and was back in the lineup on Jan. 10.

    "It's all right," Paul said. "I've tried to get used to it and not think about it. It hurts a little bit -- but not too much once the Adrenalin gets going."

    Desmond Mason added 16 points and P.J. Brown had 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Hornets, who finished with an 18-6 run to beat the Rockets for the third time this season.

    Juwan Howard had 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets, who fell to 0-11 without Tracy McGrady, who has missed Houston's last three games with back spasms that have plagued him all season.

    New Orleans coach Byron Scott sensed that his team noticed that McGrady was out and played sluggishly because of it. The Hornets trailed 36-31 at halftime after a 13-point second quarter.

    "We came out here and thought it was going to be an easy night," Scott said. "That's when a team has to know they mentally have to go after it even more."

    Scott blasted his team at halftime, but the short-handed Rockets still led 74-68 after Howard's jump hook with 4:59 left in the game. Brown then converted a three-point play and hit a jumper from the wing to start the Hornets' decisive run.

    Brown admitted that the Hornets may have taken the Rockets too lightly.

    "We were caught up in how decimated their team was, how much personnel they had lost," Brown said. "In the second half, we did a lot better with our effort, probably the way we should have from the first."

    Paul sank three free throws and hit a driving layup in the final 3:26 to keep the Hornets ahead. Paul said that during every timeout in the second half, Scott urged him to attack the basket.

    "Coach just kept saying it: 'Be more aggressive, be more aggressive," Paul said. "So I finally started taking it over."

    Unable to answer, the Rockets dropped their fifth straight overall and sixth straight at home.

    "We just lost our intensity," said Houston rookie Luther Head, who scored 18. "The whole game, we played great defense, trying to slow them down and keep them in front of me. We just slipped up on a couple of plays at the end."

    The Rockets should've known how the game would end after the way it started. David Wesley, averaging 19 points in Houston's last four games, picked up two fouls in the first 39 seconds and coach Jeff Van Gundy drew a technical from referee Sean Wright for protesting.

    The Rockets trailed 18-13 after missing 11 of 14 shots in the first quarter.

    But Houston showed some life after the dull start, mounting a 19-7 spurt early in the second. The Hornets' 13 points in the second quarter were the lowest total by a Houston opponent in a second quarter all season.

    "The base of our team is our athleticism and our quickness," Scott said. "We didn't start using that until the second half. That's the type of basketball we have to play to be successful."

    The pace quickened in the third quarter and the Hornets surged to a 39-38 lead when Kirk Snyder finished a fast break with a two-handed dunk.

    Houston, with only nine healthy players for the third straight game, adjusted to the faster tempo and answered with an 11-3 burst, led by Howard's six points.

    Mason scored nine points in the third quarter, though, and the Hornets trailed only 60-59 heading to the fourth.

    Game Notes
    The Hornets' 31 points was the lowest first half total for a Houston opponent this season. ... Hornets F/C Chris Anderson missed his second straight game with the flu. ... Howard topped 20 points for the fifth time this season after reaching the mark only twice last season. ... The Rockets fell to 0-13 when they score in the 80s.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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    Team Stat Comparison

     
    NO
    HOU
    Points 86 80
    FGM-FGA 30-72 (.417) 29-73 (.397)
    3PM-3PA 1-10 (.100) 3-15 (.200)
    FTM-FTA 25-34 (.735) 19-23 (.826)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 12-42 8-40
    Assists 16 17
    Turnovers 10 13
    Steals 5 9
    Blocks 5 3
    Fast Break Points 6 12
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (1/0) 25 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 8 9

    Top Performers

    No/oklahoma City
    Houston
    P.J. Brown Brown
    Points: 13
    Reb: 10
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 3
    Juwan Howard Howard
    Points: 22
    Reb: 10
    Ast: 0
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0