Eric Gordon scored 27 points, Carl Landry had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and the New Orleans Hornets dealt a blow to Houston's playoff hopes with a 105-99 overtime victory Thursday night, the Rockets' sixth straight loss.
Goran Dragic scored 23 points and Chase Budinger tied a season-high with 22 points for Houston (32-31), which dropped one game behind Utah (33-30) for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with three games left.
Al-Farouq Aminu scored 17 points, Marco Belinelli had 13 points, and Gustavo Ayon had nine points and 10 rebounds for New Orleans, which went ahead for good in the overtime with a 9-0 run.
The Hornets have won seven of their last 10 games at a time when losing would have enhanced their chances of winning the NBA's draft lottery.
The Rockets took their last lead when Luis Scola scored inside to make it 89-87 with 3:19 to go in overtime.
Landry responded with an inside basket to tie it, then scored again underneath while being fouled after Ayon found him with a precision pass from the lane.
After Budinger missed a 3, Aminu added a short but difficult rainbow jumper. Then Gordon broke up Budinger's pass and got the ball back from Greivis Vasquez for a breakaway dunk that made it 96-89 with 1:32 to go.
Houston could not recover.
Courtney Lee finished with 15 points for the Rockets, while Marcus Camby had 14, none in the second half when he was bothered by a sore back. Scola finished with 11 points.
Houston trailed most of the fourth quarter but took the lead when Lee drained a transition 3 from the corner and Patrick Patterson added a fast-break layup to make it 83-81 with 2:30 to go.
The Hornets tied it on Landry's putback. The teams then exchanged one-point leads four times. After the Hornets had gone ahead 87-86 on Ayon's jumper, Budinger missed a late 3 for the lead and the rebound fell to Vasquez. Lee sneaked in to steal the ball from behind and was fouled, giving him a chance to put Houston back in front with 15.3 seconds left. He made only one free throw to tie it, however, then Gordon missed a step-back jumper in the final seconds of regulation, forcing the extra session.
After trailing by as many as 13 points in the first half, the Hornets surged into the lead when they opened the second half on a 13-4 run, It started with Smith's consecutive jumpers and Gordon later added and 3 and two free throws he set up with a steal, putting New Orleans up 56-55.
Gordon reached the 20-point mark — for the fifth time in his eight games this season — in the third quarter, during which the Hornets outscored Houston 26-13. The Rockets, who shot 51.2 percent (21 of 41) in the first half, made only six of 20 shots in the period, after which they trailed 69-64.
The Rockets took their largest lead early in the second quarter with a 15-2 run that Budinger started with a 3. He added another 3 during the spurt, which he capped with a short jumper from the lane to make it 35-22.
Belinelli then snapped a string of 12 straight Houston points with the first of his three 3-pointers in the second quarter. His third got the Hornets within 39-33. Budinger then answered with his third 3 of the game and Houston did not allow New Orleans to get any closer than six points in the period. Camby's jumper gave the Rockets 51-43 lead at the half.
Notes: The Hornets improved to 6-2 in games Gordon has played. ... New Orleans, which was playing its home finale, won six of its last seven home games. ... The Rockets won the only previous meeting in Houston, also in overtime, and the teams will meet there once more in the final regular season game for both teams. ... Announced attendance was 18,315, the Hornets' fifth sellout of the season.