The Rockets picked up another win last night, this one on the road against the Pelicans, 112-111. The Rockets started off the game going small with Corey Brewer in the game and they outpaced the Pelicans early.
Anthony Davis (concussion) would leave late in the second quarter and you would think Pelicans would just call it game after that. But the Pelicans would keep giving the Rockets trouble all the way down to the last play of the game. The Rockets just managed to make one play down the stretch to pull out a win.
Below are three takeaways from the Rockets win over the Pelicans on the road.
Trevor Ariza is The Human Torch
In the last three games, Trevor Athreeza is averaging 26 points a game while shooting 61 percent from three. Hells to the yeah. Having someone that is knocking down shots during the Rockets Dwight Howard-less streak is really coming in handy.
The Rockets might not be able to pound the ball inside and score, but they are making it rain from three.
Monday night, Ariza stayed hot and was making everything from deep in the first half. At one point during the second half, Ariza even faked Dante Cunningham nearly out of his shoes as he drained a three in his face. The few shots that were missed were off-balance threes or shots not in rhythm.
During this three-game stretch, Ariza has been locked in. Playing the four seems to suit him.
Blown call at end of game doesn't come back to haunt them
The Rockets, down two points,had a massive, would-be-game-changing call go against them. Alonzo Gee clearly knocks the ball out of Ariza's hands, Gee is the last guy to touch the ball but the referees still managed to overturn the original call (after taking a look at it on replay) of Rockets ball and gave it to the Pelicans.
Instead of getting down on themselves and letting the Pelicans score and take a four- or five-point lead. Patrick Beverley stole the ball from Jrue Holiday. The Rockets went down on the other end and Beverley nailed a three.
James Harden would sink a mid-range jumper on the next possession to give them a three-point lead with 34 seconds left. The Pelicans would get a quick layup from Jrue Holiday leaving 28 seconds left.
The Rockets went with Harden to pull off the last second shot but Jrue Holiday knocked the ball away from Harden. He would recoverwith a second left, only to heave a desperation three. The result was a shot clock violation. The Pelicans, out of timeouts, got the ball with four seconds left, but only got a half-court heave off.
This is a nice sign for the Rockets. Earlier in the year, this is probably a game they would have lost.
Are the wins really because of Josh Smith?
With Smith back in the fold, the team seems to be playing more fun basketball, the ball is moving more, and everything seems freer, with less pressure.
Smith on Monday night was -14 while on the floor, only scoring five points and going 2-11 from the field. He was still pretty productive. Smith had four rebounds and had some really solid defensive possessions. On offense, he wasn't much of a factor scoring, but he still set up other players and kept the ball moving.
It is fair to say that the trade for Josh Smith lifted the team, maybe even gave them more hope, that they could get back to last year's team.
Since he has been back the team has been playing a little bit of different basketball. Wednesday, the Rockets will head to play the Spurs on the road. Last time they played at the AT&T Center, they were beaten down. Time to see if the new look, Josh Smith Rockets can keep the momentum going and win in a place no visiting team has won yet.