A game and a day after beating the Spurs, the Rockets fell on the road to the Pelicans 110 to 108. A few times during the game, the Rockets had 10 point leads, but could not hold on to the lead.
The Rockets still had a chance to win in the final minutes, but failed to execute. Now, after such an emotional high and low, they have to wonder what exactly is going on.
Below are three takeaways from the Rockets' sad loss to the Pelicans.
It's raining threes
One of the few good takeaways from the loss on Saturday night was that the three ball was actually falling. The problem was, it was falling for both teams. Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson were both on fire for the Pelicans, going 8 for 12 from three. Meanwhile, James Harden and Patrick Beverley were both aflame for the Rockets, going 9 for 18 from three.
Anthony Davis and Omer Asik both did a pretty good job at closing off the paint and making it tough for the Rockets to get shots to go down around the rim. The Rockets were only 14 for 33 at shots at the rim, so thank God the three ball was falling or they would have been blown out.
Does anybody want to play defense on Eric Gordon?
Eric Gordon was on fire, hitting shots all over the floor. For the most part, Gordon was taking his shots in rhythm and was fairly wide open while being guarded by James Harden and Corey Brewer early on.
The Rockets eventually put Trevor Ariza on Gordon, but he did no better. Ariza would get sucked into the paint and sag off of Gordon, only to have the guy running in the paint kick it out to him.
Defense probably would have helped on Gordon, but the Rockets employed the "he can't make open shots" mentality instead.
Late game execution
Houston had a chance to win it, down two points with 2:14 left on the game clock. The Rockets defense did their part, not allowing the Pelicans to score during that stretch, but the offense also wasn't able to convert for a single point. Just look at the final 30 seconds:
- The Pelicans have the ball, and Tyreke Evans wastes the shot clock and takes a bad step-back jumper over Dwight Howard (Advantage: Rockets).
- Trevor Ariza gets the rebound with six seconds left - Rockets at that time have three timeouts - he passes the ball to Harden, who pushes the ball up the court before getting fouled on his way to the basket by Jrue Holiday leaving 1.7 seconds on the clock (not in the penalty, so no free throws. Advantage: Pelicans).
- Out of the timeout, the Rockets draw up a play that looked like it was going to be something for Harden. The Pelicans put Anthony Davis on Trevor Ariza's inbounds pass, and Harden tries to get free. Ariza looks and looks, but he can't find Harden. So he passes to Dwight Howard, pass stolen, game over.