The Houston Rockets nearly blew it with a historically bad fourth quarter, but Samuel Dalembert rescued them in overtime to beat the New Orleans Hornets.
It probably shouldn't have been that difficult for the Houston Rockets. The Hornets are on the floor of the Southwest Division, they're still without Eric Gordon, and they'd lost five straight coming in. New Orleans made a game of it, though, and it took a heroic put-back from Samuel Dalembert (one of many he had on the night) to win the game for Houston in overtime, 90-88.
The game began at a feverish pace, with Houston going bananas from downtown and the Hornets getting a balanced scoring effort to keep up. As the first half progressed, though, the Rockets' shooting (they hit seven of their first nine three-point attempts) and an absurd two quarters of scoring from Kevin Martin gave them a large lead. Martin was absolutely deadly in the early going; he torched Marco Belinelli from inside out and had an exceedingly efficient 27 points before half. Houston led 58-49 at halftime and, with Martin rolling, looked poised to blow the game open in the second half.
No such luck. The Rockets pushed their lead to as much as 14, but their second unit just couldn't keep the Hornets at arm's length in the second half. Courtney Lee (16 points) gave that second unit some scoring, but not a single other bench Rocket could get on the board. By the fourth quarter, the Hornets got rolling a bit behind the smooth stylings of Jason Smith while the Rockets registered a collapse of epic proportions. Thanks in part to tighter Hornet defense, the Rockets scored just 25 points in the second half (or, said differently, less than Martin alone could muster in a portion of the first half), including just seven points in the fourth quarter. SEVEN!
Yet Houston somehow still managed to win this game. Jarrett Jack hit just one of two free throws to tie the game up for the Hornets. Kevin Martin missed a hideous three-point attempt with under a second remaining, and Smith rimmed out a jumper for New Orleans that would have won the game in regulation.
The teams traded baskets in overtime until Martin sprinted out on a fast break in the final seconds and missed a high-speed layup, only to have Dalembert -- or, as the Rocket announcers call him, "Bear" ("Bert?") -- follow it up with a dunk. Really, Dalembert's nine offensive boards were what kept Houston from collapsing in full, as those second chances were the only offense they had going after their brilliant first half.
The win lifted Houston to 8-7 on the season, while New Orleans's sixth straight loss dropped them to 3-12.