With 30 seconds left, James Harden muscled past Jrue Holiday into the paint, arms flailing, looking for a foul call. The refs swallowed their whistles, though, leaving the Rockets in a tough situation.
Houston still had a chance to win the game or send it into overtime, though, as Trevor Ariza aimed to inbound the ball from the side with 1.7 seconds left, down two points. J.B. Bickerstaff previously had the option to call a timeout with about 8 seconds left, but questionably elected to keep it.
Bickerstaff's inbounds play was flawed and Ariza's pass was easily intercepted, ending the game.
The New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Houston Rockets 110-108 in the Smoothie King Center thanks to a combined 50 points from Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon. Gordon (26 points) especially stood out, making 10 of his 12 shots, primarily from the outside.
The Rockets exploded in the first quarter for 41 points, the most in any quarter for the Rockets. What's more remarkable, though, is that Houston did not commit a turnover until 6 minutes into the second quarter. Both teams were playing on a back to back, which explains the extreme defensive laziness displayed from the tip.
Eric Gordon, who was unconscious in the first half, (19 points, 7/7 from the field) hit a buzzer-beating three to put the Pelicans up 1 heading into halftime. The Rockets led by as much as 12 points, but cooled down in the second quarter after a hot start.
In the second quarter, Dwight Howard made history. With an and-1 layup off his own miss, he joined Wilt Chamberlain, Bob Petitt, and Moses Malone in the "15K/10K" club.
Congrats @DwightHoward on 15,001 career points. 4th youngest player to reach 15,000 pts & 10,000 rebounds in NBA history. #NBAVote— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) December 27, 2015
After the high-scoring first quarter the Rockets cooled off in the second and were outscored 30-21 in the period.
The second half was truly a game of runs, as the Rockets overcame a two point halftime deficit with a 12-2 stretch. To open up the half, Patrick Beverley scored 9 points for the Rockets and finished the game with 16 on 4-7 shooting from behind the arc.
The Pelicans responded with a 13-2 run of their own fueled by superstar Anthony Davis, who recorded 23 points and 14 rebounds in the contest.
It won't show up in the box score, but Jrue Holiday was excellent in the fourth quarter. He guarded Harden in isolation scenarios better than I have seen any guard in the league. He forced a couple turnovers and stifled The Beard down the stretch.
With the loss, the Rockets find themselves back at .500 (16-16). The defensive intensity they showed in the Spurs game was nonexistent and it seems like the biggest problem with this team is being mentally and physically engaged in every game.
Houston looks to bounce back on Tuesday as they host the Atlanta Hawks.
- Donatas Motiejunas was awful on the boards. He is still getting back into shape, but he is not big, athletic, or strong enough to not box out.
- Marcus Thornton subbed James Harden out with under 2 minutes to play in the third quarter. He jacked up a long corner jumper as soon as Trevor Ariza's pass hit is fingertips. It took him six seconds to score. Thornton scored 9 points in 11 minutes and played the majority of crunch time.
- The Pelicans' announcer called him a "hired gun."
- Lawson played well offensively, poorly defensively. He was aggressive in looking for his shot (sometimes to a fault) but played olé defense and got manhandled by bigger guards in the post.
- Corey Brewer only played 8 minutes, so that situation is trending in the right direction. Maybe Bickerstaff finally realized how bad he has been.
- Lawson played 30 minutes to Beverley's 21. They both played well, but Lawson earned the time by creating his own shot off the pick and roll. He loves the step-back fadeaway from either elbow.
- James Harden shot 7-16 from the field and just 4-4 from the stripe.
- Beat reporter Jonathan Feigen for the Chronicle made quite an interesting tweet after the game:
Bickerstaff livid. Cites misplaced priorities. Would not elaborate or get more specific. Called it the core issue.— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) December 27, 2015
Gifs of the Game