CHARLOTTE — Leading the Hornets with 27 points, Terry Rozier connected on seven of his 12 3-point attempts on Monday night as the Hornets cruised to a 123-99 victory over Houston in their first home game since Dec. 10.
Charlotte’s 24-point win was its largest margin of victory this season and also the fewest points it has allowed in a game since a 106-99 win at Orlando back on Nov. 24. The Hornets (18-17) held a 64-50 lead heading into halftime and limited the Rockets (10-24) to only 20 third-quarter points.
“We had a target to hold them under 100 there to start the third quarter,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “Our guys came out with the right mentality defensively in general for four quarters, so we just have to keep building on that and take our defense with us on the road. That’s the biggest area of growth for us.”
The Hornets have now won two games in a row after a 12-game stretch that only produced three wins; the Rockets have lost six of their last seven contests.
Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 18 points off the bench for the Hornets, and LaMelo Ball and Jalen McDaniels each added 16 points. Starting center Mason Plumlee provided a season-high 15 points and nine rebounds.
“It felt great to have a home game and it’s so great to have so much support from the fans,” Plumlee said.
Trevelin Queen came off the bench to lead the Rockets with a team-high 17 points, while Eric Gordon and Christian Wood each scored 16 points.
The matchup was yet another game affected by the NBA’s health and safety protocols for COVID-19. Charlotte was missing key players Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington, and Jae’Sean Tate, Garrison Matthews, K.J. Martin and D.J. Augustin were all absent for Houston.
McDaniels was effective for the Hornets starting in place of Bridges, shooting 6 of 12 from the field while spreading the ball around the perimeter.
With Ball and Gordon Hayward posting relatively limited offensive numbers, Rozier emerged in the third quarter to provide the spark for Charlotte. The seventh-year guard was 10 of 17 from the field in just 27 minutes on the court — he has now shot 46.8% from behind the arc with a combined 15 3-pointers in the past three games.
“I feel like 80% of shooting is confidence,” Rozier said. “With the mechanics, everybody has their own way of shooting, but you have to have confidence there. I feel like I’m a hell of a shooter and I get a lot of shots up in the summer. But if my confidence is not there, I might as well not even shoot it. … I have to know that I’m one of the best shooters in this league, so I’ve just got to let it go.”
Next up, the Hornets will head to Indiana for a Wednesday night matchup with the Pacers (14-20). Charlotte and Indiana have already squared off twice this season with the Hornets emerging with victories in both games.