HORNETS AT ROCKETS, 8 P.M. ET

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  • New Orleans rookie guard Austin Rivers will face arguably the toughest defensive challenge of his brief NBA career Wednesday when he squares off against the league’s third-leading scorer, James Harden. But Rivers is not the only Hornet who will carry the responsibility of containing the Rockets’ top playmaker. Coach Monty Williams said he is expecting all five defenders to work together in an effort to keep the ball out of Harden’s hands. “That’s part of system; trusting the guys around you,” Williams said. “You have to get in [Harden's] face a little bit. If you give him vision … he puts the ball on the button every single time.”
  • Shooting guard Matt Carroll, whom the Hornets (3-2) acquired Tuesday in a trade with the Charlotte Bobcats, is inactive and has yet to join the team. Williams said he is not sure how the nine-year veteran will fit into his rotation, and he only plans to give playing time to Carroll if he proves he is a positive addition to the organization.
  • Houston’s 1-3 record at Toyota Center this season is not necessarily indicative of how well it has performed in front of the home-town faithful. In addition to losing the home-opener against Portland in overtime, the Rockets (3-4) have dropped two contests by six points or less. Interim coach Kelvin Sampson said these close outcomes are beneficial for his young players, because it helps them quickly discover how one or two missed opportunities can change the outcome of a game. “Sometimes you have to go through that to get some confidence,” Sampson said. “We haven’t played a game yet that we didn’t have a chance to win. … It’s kind of gave our guys permission that we have the chance to be pretty good.”
  • Houston rookie Royce White did not attend Wednesday’s shootaround, and he will not be inside the arena for the matchup with New Orleans. Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen reported that a person within the Rockets organization with knowledge of the situation said the club is fining White on a daily basis as he continues to miss team events and psychiatric therapy sessions that the Rockets arranged for him.
  • A double-digit lead has not been safe in recent meetings between these clubs. The winning team has overcome a deficit of at least 13 points in five of the last six regular-season matchups.

Matt Miller

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