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Hornets lose LaMelo Ball, still top Rockets

Jan 18, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA;  Houston Rockets forward Jae'Sean Tate (8) drives with the ball as Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (1) defends during the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Terry Rozier scored a team-high 26 points, and the Charlotte Hornets overcame the loss of LaMelo Ball while recording a 122-117 road win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.

Rozier paced seven Hornets in double figures to help Charlotte snap a five-game skid. P.J. Washington paired 16 points with eight rebounds, Mason Plumlee added 17 points and nine boards and rookie Mark Williams had 17 points, six rebounds and five blocks in 19 minutes off the bench.

Ball scored 13 points before departing with a left ankle sprain early in the third quarter.

Charlotte responded to a KJ Martin 3-pointer that tied the game with 9:44 remaining with a 16-4 run that featured treys from Washington and Bryce McGowens plus four dunks, two of which were by Williams.

Martin, Jalen Green and Eric Gordon drilled 3-pointers down the stretch to cut that 12-point deficit to 119-116, but McGowens sank two free throws with seven seconds left to seal the victory and send the Rockets to their 12th consecutive defeat and 10th in a row at home.

Green matched his career high with 41 points and added seven assists, while Alperen Sengun recorded a double-double of 24 points and 12 rebounds while adding six assists.

With Ball sidelined, Rozier asserted himself offensively in the third quarter with nine points on 4-of-11 shooting. The Hornets weren’t particularly efficient in the period, shooting 1 of 7 from behind the arc, but with Houston shooting 37.5 percent in the third while committing seven turnovers that Charlotte converted into 12 points, the Hornets had ample opportunity to thrive offensively.

Still, despite the adversity, the Rockets entered the fourth with an 84-83 lead after scoring the final six points of the third on a Green layup, a Josh Christopher pull-up jumper and a Tari Eason tip-in.

Ball and Green were aggressive early, scoring 11 and 13 points, respectively, in the first quarter. Green was a perfect 6-for-6 from the floor, yet the Hornets carved out a 36-31 lead entering the second largely on the strength of their 5-for-12 performance from behind the arc in the opening frame.

Houston erased that deficit with a 14-2 run to climb to a 49-45 lead, a rally that featured six different Rockets recording field goals. Green and Garrison Mathews knocked down 3-pointers during the spurt, and Houston carried a 60-53 lead into the intermission with Green tallying 23 points and Sengun racking up 12.

Ball shot 0-for-9 in the second quarter.

–Field Level Media