Charlotte Hornets vs. Houston Rockets Pick & Prediction JANUARY 26th 2024

There is plenty of misery to go around for the Houston Rockets and Charlotte Hornets. One of them should find at least some temporary satisfaction when they meet Friday at Charlotte, N.C. The Hornets have split their past four games, falling 113-106 to the lowly Pistons on Wednesday night at Detroit. Still, that equals the Hornets’ best four-game stretch of the season. They have won back-to-back games just once. The Rockets are 20-23 yet are closing in on last season’s 22 total victories. They haven’t won more than 22 games since racking up 44 victories in 2019-20, the last season they appeared in the playoffs. But Houston has lost five of its last six games, including a 137-131 overtime defeat to the visiting Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night. “A game we should have won,” Rockets guard Jalen Green said. “Things happen and we’ve got to bounce back.” Prior to the Portland game, Houston had five different leading scorers across a five-game stretch. Alperen Sengun has poured in at least 30 points in two of the last three games. Rockets coach Ime Udoka had four players log at least 38 minutes Wednesday and two others played at least 30 minutes. The Hornets were outplayed in the fourth quarter of a 113-106 loss to the Pistons on Wednesday despite rookie Brandon Miller finishing with 23 points. Miller has 23 or more points in four consecutive games, something only Alonzo Mourning had accomplished as a Charlotte rookie. The Hornets went stale offensively in the fourth quarter, getting outscored by the Pistons 24-14.

“We stopped moving the ball,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. “We do not have an iso-team. We are a pick-and-roll, ball-movement team. When that’s happening, we’re good. If we want to stand out there and pound the ball, it’s going to be hard against anybody.” Friday’s game could be the first in a Hornets uniform for six-time NBA All-Star Kyle Lowry, who was added to the team in a trade earlier in the week that sent guard Terry Rozier to the Miami Heat. “Change is a big part of the NBA and we have got to move on quickly,” Clifford said. “(Rozier’s) impact on his teammates, with the way that he works, the way he handles himself, those are things that we lose. We are going to need guys to evolve here as we go on.” The trade directly impacts point guard LaMelo Ball, who had been Rozier’s backcourt mate. Ball was 6-for-21 from the field and had 17 points against the Pistons. “There are going to be nights like this,” Clifford said. The Hornets received good news with center Nick Richards back in action after a week layoff because of an ankle injury. He scored a career-high 21 points at Detroit. “He’s our best defensive rebounder,” Clifford said. The Rockets defeated Charlotte 128-119 on Nov. 1 at home on a night when Green poured in 23 points in the team’s first victory of the season. The Rockets connected 21 times from 3-point range. Rozier had 21 points and a team-best six assists for the Hornets. The Rockets will be playing one of just two road games during a two-week span.

–Field Level Media

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