Houston (CBS Housston) – In a game where they couldn’t make shots. In a game where they couldn’t get stops. In a game where they didn’t play close to their best, the Rockets made enough shots, got enough stop and played their best when they needed to in a 107-98 win over the New Orleans Pelicans Saturday night at Toyota Center.
Houston led 31-22 after a quarter, even though they missed all six of their three-point tries, but they made 57% of their shots, and Dwight Howard controlled the paint bby scoring 10 points and grabbing eight rebounds, but things turned in the second quarter and New Orleans got the game tied at halftime.
The Rockets outscored New Orleans 22-21 in an ugly third quarter, but it was the Pelicans that started the fourth quarter hot. After missing their first three shots, they drained nine of their next 14 topped off by an Anthony Davis jumper with 3:58 left, giving them a 94-91 lead, but it was all Rockets from there.
“Throughout the whole game there was no doubt in my mind that we were going to win the game,” Chandler Parsons said.
After the Davis bucket, the Pelicans made just one of it’s last five shots while turning the ball over twice as the Rockets closed the game on a 16-4 run, and all five guys that were on the floor, the five that started the game, made key contributions.
“Terrence (Jones) had a huge play on the rebound coast-to-coast that kind of got the crowd back in it,” Kevin McHale said. “Jeremy (Lin) hit a three after that. We started getting some mo-jo after that.”
It also helped getting James Harden going. In the Rockets 31 point first quarter, he scored nine points, making half of his six shots. He didn’t make a shot in the second and third quarters, scoring one point on a free throw, but he erupted in the fourth, making all four shots from the field, scoring 11 points.
“That’s what I’m here for, just to be a playmaker and finish off games,” Harden said. “Obviously (shots) aren’t going to go in every time, but take the big shots and make them, and have confidence in my abilities.”
Shots didn’t fall for most of the night for the Rockets from behind the three-point arc where they made just three of their first 22 shots. They did close the game by making three of four, but are now just draining 30.8 percent of their shots from distance this month, worst in the league, but that doesn’t mean McHale wants them to stop shooting from there.
“We got to shoot those shots,” he said. “We don’t want to take contested three’s but we want to take open three’s, we want take good three’s with ball movement.”
Lost in all this was another great Howard performance. After that strong first quarter he finished with 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting with 18 rebounds. All five Rockets starters logged at least 34 minutes and scored in double-figures.
The win gives the Rockets four in the last five games and ups their record to 21-11. They’ll play a fourth game in five days Sunday evening in Oklahoma City when they take on the Thunder for the first since last year’s playoffs, and once again, OKC will be without Russell Westbrook.Follow @AdamSpolane
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