Houston (CBS HOUSTON) – On paper, the Houston Rockets were facing the 11th seeded New Orleans Pelicans Friday night, but the team they actually faced was about 100 times tougher than their ranking would suggest.
It would take the Rockets about 47 minutes before they were finally able to put away the Pelicans 117-107.
After a three-day break, the Rockets started off the game a little too relaxed as they committed 16 first half turnovers. The Pelicans took advantage of the Rockets chill as they made eight three’s, taking a one-point lead into the locker room at halftime.
Luckily for the Rockets, the turnovers did not haunt them too much as James Harden kept the team from sinking as he poured in 21 points and had seven assists in the half.
“In the first half, (we) just weren’t in a rhythm as a team,” Eric Gordon said. “But we were going to get it together and we did in the second half.”
The Rockets did come out of the locker room looking much better and more organization on offense in the, but the Pelicans just wouldn’t go away.
No one could guard Anthony Davis in the third quarter as he’d hit shot after shot finishing with 17 points during that span. Harden again would help the team keep pace, but setting up six of his teammates during the frame and the Rockets would go on to shoot 52% in the quarter.
In the fourth the Pelicans tried to hang in for as long as they could, Davis had cooled off, but DeMarcus Cousins had started to heat up. Cousins would keep them within shouting distance with 15 points in the quarter.
The Rockets would finally start to get some separation as the three ball started to fall. Held to 7-27 through three-quarters, the Rockets would hit seven three’s alone in the forth.
“(James Harden) made plays down the stretch and we weren’t able to make them,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said summing up the game.
The Rockets MVP candidate might not have hit a game-winning shot Friday, but he had his hands all over the team’s 50th win. Harden would end up finishing with 38 points, 7 rebounds and 17 assists (tied a career high).