Hornets 123, Rockets 115
The New Orleans Hornets were determined to finish the season
with a victory. That was about the only goal left to reach.
David West had 35 points and 10 rebounds, rookie Darren Collison
added 26 points and 11 assists and the Hornets beat the Houston
Rockets 123-115 on Wednesday night in the season finale for both
“We wanted to get on the bus with a win,” West said. “We felt
like this was a game we wanted to play with high intensity. We
weren’t just going to lay down and be unprofessional in terms of
not going out giving maximum effort.”
Marcus Thornton scored 20 points for the Hornets, who won for
the second time in their final 14 road games. The Hornets (37-45)
will sit out the playoffs for the first time in three years after a
season ruined by injuries, most notably to Chris Paul and Peja
Two years ago, New Orleans went 56-26, the best mark in
franchise history. West says it’s too early to speculate what
offseason changes are needed to put the Hornets back among the
“We’re back in the catch-up mode, in terms of having to get
back to where they are,” he said. “Obviously, our main gun (Paul)
was down for most of the year. When he came back, he wasn’t fully
healthy. That took too big a toll.”
The Rockets can relate.
They were undersized and limited on defense all year without Yao
Ming, who sat out to recover from foot surgery. Houston revamped
the lineup at the trade deadline, dealing away troublesome Tracy
McGrady, and finished 42-40.
“They generally competed all year long,” Coach Rick Adelman
said. “They really came together early and had a great start. At
the end, it was disappointing, but it was still a pleasure to coach
Trevor Ariza finished his first regular season in Houston with
his first career triple-double – 26 points, 10 rebounds and a
career-high 10 assists. Kevin Martin, acquired in the McGrady deal,
scored 24 points.
New Orleans didn’t need its stars in the finale, shooting 64
percent (51 of 80) with 28 assists.
West went 16 for 20 from the floor, toying with any Houston
defender who tried to guard him. Collison hit 11 of 17 shots,
outplaying Rockets point guard Aaron Brooks.
Yao is expected to come back healthy for next season, but Brooks
said the Rockets can’t hope for just that to bounce them back in
“We haven’t done anything yet, so we don’t have anything to
hang our hats on,” he said. “We haven’t accomplished anything.
How I feel is we’ve got to come in this summer and work had and get
better individually, and then come back.”
Ariza, a member of the Los Angeles’ Lakers championship team
last summer, wants to take a break from basketball and won’t watch
the playoffs. Collison says he will, even though his team won’t be
“You don’t want to watch it, because you always picture
yourself being there,” he said. “But it’s exciting to see the
best players perform at a very high level.”
Neither team played much defense most of the night on Wednesday,
and the Rockets shot 54 percent (47 of 87). Their 31 assists were
two shy of a season high.
West, who scored a career-high 44 points in Houston on Dec. 29,
hit his first five shots on Wednesday.
West scored 16 points on 8-for-11 shooting in the first half;
the rest of the team was only 16 for 29. Martin scored 14
first-half points to lead the Rockets.
Collison reached 20 points and 10 assists in the third quarter,
the third time this season he reached those totals in the same
game. He beat the buzzer with a driving layup to put New Orleans up
95-90 heading to the fourth.
NOTES: Collison finished with 14 double-doubles this season. …
Brooks, Scola and Chuck Hayes started all 82 games. Houston has not
had three players start every game in a regular season since
1989-90. … Yao set up a hotline to help North American Chinese
residents reach family and friends in China following a series of
earthquakes there. Yao, out this season after left foot surgery,
created a foundation in June 2008, about a month after a massive
earthquake struck the Sichuan province. Yao launched the foundation
with a $2 million donation to rebuild schools in the affected area.
The hotline number is (718) 766-9636. A recorded message in English
and Mandarin asks the caller to enter the phone number of the
person they are trying to reach in China.