Houston, TX – Chase Budinger scored a season-high 27 points as the Houston Rockets downed the New Orleans Hornets, 84-77, in the season finale for both teams.
Samuel Dalembert added 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Courtney Lee finished with 10 points for Houston (34-32).
"We're upset that we didn't make the playoffs but we went out there and did the right thing and finished the season with a win for our fans," Lee said.
Lance Thomas, Jerome Dyson and Darryl Watkins dropped in 13 points apiece in a losing effort for the Hornets (21-45). Watkins also had 10 rebounds while Al- Farouq Aminu contributed 11 points and 10 boards.
"I was certainly proud of our guys that got a chance to play in this last game, but at the same time the season is over and nobody wants their seasons to be over in April," said New Orleans head coach Monty Williams.
Houston trailed, 42-33, entering the third quarter but used an early 12-3 run to knot the game at 47 on a Patrick Patterson layup.
New Orleans, though, regained its lead with a pair of Thomas free throws to spark an 11-3 push to take a 58-50 advantage. The Rockets later cut the deficit to three on Patterson's three-point play before the Hornets ended the third with a 9-4 swing to enter the fourth with a 71-63 lead.
But the Rockets recorded the first eight points of the fourth quarter to tie the game at 71 and after Aminu put an end to the swing with a shot from beyond the arc, New Orleans would not make another shot from the floor over the final six-plus minutes of action.
A pair of free throws by Watkins later gave the Hornets a 77-75 lead with 2:37 left in the game before Budinger's dunk on the other end tied the game and Marcus Morris connected on a three-pointer from the left corner to put the Rockets on top for the first time in the contest.
Watkins' offensive foul on New Orleans' next possession gave the ball back to Houston and Jason Smith slammed home a put-back dunk to put the Rockets ahead, 82-77.
Goran Dragic's foul shots after a missed Greivis Vasquez three-point attempt accounted for the final margin.
New Orleans opened the game with an 11-2 run to jump out to the early lead.
The Rockets answered with an 8-3 push to close the gap to four, but the Hornets closed out to first by scoring six of the final eight points to carry a 20-12 advantage into the second.
The Hornets carried that momentum into the second quarter, opening the frame with a 9-0 spurt to stretch their lead up to 29-12, and led by double-digits for the majority of the half until a late 12-4 run by Houston made it a 42-33 game at the break.
Houston missed out of the postseason for the third straight year...New Orleans had made the playoffs in three of the last four years...Houston held a 56-44 advantage on the glass and a 38-26 edge in points in the paint...The Hornets turned the ball over 15 times, while the Rockets committed 11 turnovers.