Hornets' Howard hopes to haunt Rockets (Oct 27, 2017)
Dwight Howard goes up against one of his former teams Friday night when his new club, the Charlotte Hornets, hosts the Houston Rockets.
Both teams are coming off wins on Wednesday. The Rockets opened a three-game trip with a 105-104 victory at Philadelphia, while the Hornets tipped off a three-game homestand with a 110-93 rout of the Denver Nuggets.
Howard was one of the driving forces in Charlotte's win, contributing 15 points and 19 rebounds.
He enters the Friday night game with a run of four straight contests with 15 or more rebounds, the longest streak for a Hornet since Emeka Okafor had a four-game run in February 2007.
The Hornets (2-2) complemented Howard by 13-for-30 shooting (43.3 percent) on 3-point attempts and adding 49 points off the bench to remain unbeaten in two home games this season.
"That was the most balanced and well-rounded game we've played so far," Hornets coach Steve Clifford said afterward. "We had better readiness to start."
The Rockets (4-1) saved their best for the end Wednesday at Philadelphia, getting a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Eric Gordon to steal the one-point win.
Gordon had 29 points and James Harden 27 for the Rockets, but neither shot well from long distance in the game. Gordon went just 5-for-16 from beyond the arc, Harden 2-for-8.
Center Clint Capela provided a much-needed assist around the hoop, recording 16 points and 20 rebounds.
"For us to be a good team," Gordon said after the thrilling win, "we have to win games like this."
The victory improved the Rockets to 3-0 on the road. They wrap up their current trip Saturday at Memphis, completing their second back-to-back of the early season.
Houston earlier swept games at Golden State and Sacramento on a back-to-back.
The Rockets won a pair from the Hornets last season, outscoring them 39-24 on 3-pointers in a 107-95 victory in their only visit to Charlotte.
Houston will attempt to duplicate the feat without two of its best perimeter threats, with Chris Paul (strained left knee) and Trevor Ariza (sprained left foot) out of action.
Howard played three seasons for the Rockets, averaging 16.0 points and 11.7 rebounds. The eight-time All-Star is the NBA's active rebound leader with 12,160.
He shocked even the Hornets' home fans with 7-for-11 accuracy at the free-throw line Wednesday, after having endured the third-worst foul-shooting performance in NBA history (0-for-9) in a loss Monday at Milwaukee.
Howard never played college ball, but one of his teammates who did, rookie Malik Monk, was inspired by the sight of his former coach at the Wednesday game.
With Kentucky's John Calipari on hand, Monk exploded for 17 points after having totaled just 13 points in his first three NBA games.
Monk set a Kentucky single-game scoring record (47 points) last December en route to winning the Jerry West Award as the NCAA's premier shooting guard.
Coincidentally, Roy Williams, the coach against whom Monk set that record, also was on hand for the Wednesday game. He was there to watch two of his former North Carolina players, Marvin Williams and Marcus Paige, who combined for nine points and six rebounds to help the Hornets' cause.