The revamped Houston Rockets are way better than they were last season, and the Hornets found that out early, falling behind in the first quarter, fighting back with a 16-2 run, and watching an 11-point lead evaporate in the second. But the Bees once again showed some serious D, and David West sank two free throws in the last five seconds to ice it, 96-90.
Chris Paul managed a double-double in the first half, scoring 10 and dishing 10 in 18 minutes; he wound up with 16 assists, tying a career high. Tyson Chandler swept 11 boards, and David West dropped in 22 points, raising his season average to an even 20. And Peja’s mojo put in an appearance: Stojakovic hit five of eight treys. In fact, the Hornets shot better from beyond the arc (9 of 16, 56.3 percent) than from inside (33 of 70, 47.1 percent).
The Bees still can’t hit consistently from the charity stripe: they improved markedly in the fourth quarter, yet still wound up at 60 percent. This is, notes Russ Eisenstein of the radio crew, only the second time the Hornets have started a season 3-0; they’ve never started 4-0. Will history be made this week? The Warriors will be coming to the Ford Center Tuesday, and it’s probably not too much to hope that the Mavericks will thrash them the night before.