Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 1/2/13
HOUSTON -- The Rockets have come to rely on the rebounding and defense of center Omer Asik, but on Wednesday night Asik provided an unexpected offensive boost to spark a 104-92 victory over New Orleans at Toyota Center. Tthe Hornets refused to submit, even when the Rockets strung together three consecutive 3-point plays midway through the third quarter. But New Orleans finally wilted under the determination of Asik. Thanks to a 16-6 run courtesy of reserves Jason Smith and Ryan Anderson, the Hornets erased the Rockets' largest lead, 76-66, by the seven-minute mark of the fourth. Asik followed with a 3-point play, keying a 17-4 run that included a Chandler Parsons drive to the hoop and back-to-back baskets from Patrick Patterson, the latter being a 3-pointer at the 1:54 mark that bumped the lead to 99-88. Asik matched his season high of 21 points and added eight rebounds. James Harden led the Rockets (18-14) with 31 points while Patterson chipped in 15 points and 10 rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench. Anderson and Smith combined for 30 points off the bench for the Hornets (7-25), who received 15 points and 14 assists from Greivis Vasquez. From the very start it was a test of wills between two teams on opposite ends of the pace spectrum. The Rockets lead the NBA in possessions per 48 minutes but the Hornets, who rank last, would not let Houston run. The Hornets slugged their way through the first quarter, committing defensively in the half court before the Rockets methodically generated momentum. Houston closed the first half just 1-for-11 on 3-pointers yet amazingly managed to hit half of their 20 second-quarter shot attempts. Asik, whose solo battle with Hornets center Robin Lopez set a physical tone early, helped the Rockets establish offensive momentum. He and Harden combined for 25 of the Rockets' 49 first half points, with Asik rising to the challenge Lopez presented with his banging down low. NOTES: After following a seven-game road losing streak with successive wins at the Knicks, Bulls and Timberwolves, the Rockets will play nine of 11 games on the road starting Friday in Milwaukee. "It's going to be a huge test for us to see how we play on the road," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "We've got to play our style, home (and) on the road. We've got to be persistent in playing how we need to play every time we're on the floor. If we can do that, home or road, we'll give ourselves a chance." ... Hornets brass has decided to avoid playing guard Eric Gordon in back-to-back games as he rebounds from knee problems. Gordon made his season debut at Charlotte on Dec. 29. "Obviously as a coach you want him out there, but you've got to err on the side of caution," Hornets coach Monty Williams said.
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