CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Houston Rockets usually win games with their high-octane offense, but that wasn't the whole story on Thursday night.
'The Rockets put together one of their best defensive efforts of the season, and the result was a 107-95 victory over the Charlotte Hornets at the Spectrum Center.
Houston forced 22 turnovers, the most the Hornets have committed all season, and also held the Hornets to 43.5 percent shooting from the field. The Rockets scored 27 points off the turnovers.
They trailed by four at halftime, but broke the game open by outscoring Charlotte 36-22 in the third quarter.
"The defense was better tonight, a lot better," guard James Harden said. "The communication, the awareness, just everything as a whole we were really good tonight. Especially in the second half, it allowed us to get easy transition points and open threes, and that helped our confidence.
"Our communication was really good. We switched out, we contended the ball, made them take tough shots, and we rebounded the basketball. If we do all those things consistently, we'll be a very good team."
"We've been kind of preaching that (defense) the whole year," D'Antoni said. "We have to, because you're not going to make shots every night, but you can play defense every night. A lot of that has been, we got some practice time in and now we've got some legs on us. You have peaks and valleys, and hopefully we've come out of our valley and got back to what we were doing the first of the year."
The Rockets (39-17) have now won three straight.
Harden fell just short of his 15th triple-double of the season with 30 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. He was just 3 of 12 from the field in the first half, but he scored 10 points in the third quarter when the Rockets took control and finished 8 of 21 with four 3-pointers.
The Rockets trailed 54-50 at halftime. But they forced seven Charlotte turnovers and hit seven 3-pointers themselves in the third quarter.
"We just wanted to come out in the second half and play better defense than we did in the first half and have a lot more energy and impose our will," Anderson said. "I think that's just really key for us, to get stops and run and get scores at the other end. For the most part I think it was just everyone's effort in the second half that was a real big spark for us."
The Hornets (24-29) have now lost eight of their last nine.
Hornets coach Steve Clifford was not a happy camper afterward.
"A lot of times I'd say you have to watch the film," Clifford said. "You don't have to watch the film tonight. It's pretty simple. If you're going to turn the ball over 22 times, you're going to lose every single time. There are certain things in this league that you can't do against certain teams, like a team that's as talented as they are. You give yourself no chance to win. That was it."
The Hornets led by nine at one point in the first half.
"They picked up their energy and we did not," Batum said. "We stopped making plays. This team loves to run. So when a team loves to run and you give them the ball -- we gave away too many balls. I mean, careless passes. We've got to do a better job."
NOTES: The Rockets won the only previous game between the teams this season, 121-114 in Houston on Jan. 10. They now hold a 41-14 edge in the all-time series. ... The Rockets were without C Nene (shoulder) and G Eric Gordon (back). ... The Hornets were without G Ramon Sessions (torn lateral meniscus). He underwent surgery earlier this week and will be out four to six weeks. ... The Hornets got C Cody Zeller back after he missed the previous seven games with a quad injury, but Zeller wound up leaving the game in the second half with soreness. ... Houston G James Harden flirted with a triple-double but also committed nine turnovers. ... The Rockets were on a one-game trip. They will return home to face Phoenix on Saturday. ... The Hornets were playing the second game on a four-game home stand. They will host the LA Clippers on Saturday.