The Houston Rockets trailed for most of the night, but some superstar play from James Harden and Chris Paul combined with some beastly work underneath from Clint Capela to spark a Houston comeback and a 130-123 Rockets win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Harden finished with 26 points, a career-high-tying 17 assists, and 6 steals, and he took over down the stretch with the game on the line, getting to the bucket for a layup, knocking down 2 threes and snagging a steal in the game’s final moments to seal the Rockets victory.
Chris Paul had 20 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals, and he kept the Rockets in the game in the third period when New Orleans went up by double digits. Paul scored 18 of his 20 in the second half, as he and Harden did what stars do and closed out the game for the Rockets’ tenth straight win.
Houston also got a virtuoso performance from Clint Capela, who finished with 28 points, 8 rebounds, and a career-high tying 5 blocks. Capela busted out a plethora of dunks, including several facials (yes, in the face!) on DeMarcus Cousins, as he refused to be pushed around by Boogie and, in fact, took the physicality to the New Orleans big man.
Despite the copious steal and block numbers by the Rockets, their defense was mostly shredded for the majority of the night by the hot-shooting Pelicans. New Orleans finished the game shooting 57 percent from the field and 18-33 from deep, and they racked up a season-high 41 points in the first quarter and 76 in the first half.
The Rockets were just plain better with the game on the line, however, and got plenty of contributions around the board. Eric Gordon finished with 27 points and 5 threes, Trevor Ariza had 13, and P.J. Tucker played some impressive defense on Cousins in the second half.
The Pelicans were led by E’Twaun Moore, who had a career-high 36 points, and they also got 37 from Jrue Holiday, 24 points and 14 boards from Cousins, and they also got a triple dip from Rajon Rondo, who finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds, and 12 assists. The absence of Anthony Davis really cost them, however, as they crumbled late in the fourth.
The Rockets move to 21-4 on the season with the win, while the Pelicans drop to .500 at 14-14. Houston has tomorrow night off before meeting the Charlotte Hornets back at the Toyota Center on Wednesday night. They’ll be in search of their eleventh straight win.
The Rockets are off to their best start since the glory days. Sit back and enjoy the ride, Houston.