The Rockets had made their repairs, moved the ball and built a lead that reached 19 points. In the second half, in a stunning and crucial turnaround, they even cut down on their turnovers for a while.

But with nearly 10 minutes left, it all shut down. The ball got "sticky," as coach Kevin McHale hates to say but likes to put it. For nearly six fourth-quarter minutes, the offense that had lived up to Thursday's session of the Kevin McHale Film Festival broke down.

The Rockets missed seven shots with five turnovers. They had defended well enough earlier that the Hornets only pulled to within 10 points, the deficit they had made up in the Rockets' previous trip to New Orleans.

Then, with absolutely no warning, ball movement was back. The Hornets blitzed James Harden on a pick-and-roll and Harden quickly passed to Patrick Patterson. Patterson found Jeremy Lin. Lin passed to Carlos Delfino. Delfino swished his 3-pointer.