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James Harden’s 40 pushes small-ball Rockets past Pelicans

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Who says short people can’t play basketball? Well, they’re actually still large human beings... but you get the point.

New Orleans Pelicans v Houston Rockets Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Rockets will head to their Super Bowl party in a good mood after a 117-109 win against the Pelicans at Toyota Center Sunday afternoon.

With the win, the Rockets won their third game in the span of a week and their third game suiting up zero players taller than 6’6”.

6’5” James Harden lost the opening tip to the Pelicans’ Derrick Favors, but he started the game on the right foot, scoring 14 first-quarter points.

The short Rockets were able to force 10 first quarter turnovers, which is what kept the Rockets in the game despite allowing the Pelicans to shoot north of 50 percent for majority of the game.

In addition to shooting well, the Pelicans’ height advantage led to winning the battle on the boards 63-43, but the Rockets stayed close with the Pels throughout the entire game.

Harden was a big part of that, breaking the 40-point barrier for the 17th time this season. But he also had help in the form of 22 points apiece from Russell Westbrook and Ben McLemore and a double-double from Danuel House Jr.

The Rockets had few answers for All-Star Brandon Ingram, who scored a team-high 28 points while grabbing 12 boards and Zion Williamson with 21 points and 10 boards.

The game stayed tight throughout the afternoon, but the Rockets pulled ahead in the fourth quarter when the Rockets defended the Pels’ outside shooting and crashed the offensive glass. 7 of the team’s 11 offensive boards came in the fourth quarter.

The Rockets looked far from perfect today, but the team got a win against a hot and healthy Pelicans squad and gained some crucial momentum as they approach the All-Star Break.

Wins like these are important for teams in the middle of the pack looking to surge back to the top.

Today’s win places the Rockets just one game back of the Jazz for the 4th seed and just three games behind the Clippers for the 2nd seed.


The Rockets look to continue their uphill ascent Tuesday when the Hornets come to town. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. CT.