NEWS Defensively challenged Rockets look to win 11 games against Hornets

Defensively challenged Rockets look to win 11 games against Hornets

The Houston Rockets have increasingly struggled to find silver linings amid an avalanche of losses, most recently on the road against the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday.

The Rockets’ 140-132 loss extended their losing streak to 11 games. Houston has lost 16 of 17 games since mid-December to start its seven-game home stretch with wins over the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns.

The Rockets also have a nine-game home loss against the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday.

Showed a hint of positivity against the Lakers. Turkish center Alperen Sengun, 20, enjoyed the best game of his two-year career, scoring a career-high 33 points along with 15 rebounds, six assists and four blocks.

Sengun went 14-for-17 (82.4 percent) and was so dominant that the Lakers swapped six-time All-Defensive veteran LeBron James for Sengun in an attempt to slow his rampage.

“It was a great moment,” Sengen said.

Throughout their losing streak, the Rockets have struggled to decide on Sengun, whose passing skills continue to be well-known around the league. Of the six Rockets to log more than 1,000 minutes this season, Sengun’s 17.9 assist rate is second only to point guard Kevin Porter Jr.

While Sengun has recorded more than six assists only four times this season, his efficiency as a scorer resonated on Monday.

Rockets coach Stephen Sellars, when asked what worked for Sengun, replied: “Everything. His post up, his elbow catch, the pick-and-roll — he’s really good in the pocket. We The player did a good job of finding his spot in the pocket. He did it with his soft touch. He was playing for his teammates.

“Alpi has been outstanding on the offensive end.”

Of course, the offense isn’t Houston’s problem against the Lakers. During the loss, the Rockets had a minus-15.8 net rating, the worst in the league. Their defensive rating of 123.9 ranks last in the league over their past 11 games, but holes remain.

“I’m always happy to see guys have great individual games,” Rockets guard Eric Gordon said. “Now we have to come together to win. If he can get those numbers in a win, it will be a great moment.”

The only team with a lower offensive rating than the Rockets this season is Charlotte, which lost its fifth straight game with a 130-118 home loss to the Boston Celtics on Monday. The Hornets are without rotation players Gordon Hayward (hamstring), Cody Martin (knee) and Kelly Oubre Jr. (hand), but expect Hayward and Martin to return soon.

“I think the guys played hard and played a lot of good games,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “We gave ourselves a chance. The guys played harder (and) we were more disciplined. The guys were great in terms of effort and attitude.

“Hopefully we can get Gordon back, hopefully Cody back and build on that.”

LaMelo Ball leads the Hornets this season with 24.0 points and 8.4 assists per game. Terry Rozier (20.8) and Oubre (20.2) have also been scoring threats when available.

–Field-level media

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