HOUSTON — The New Orleans Pelicans’ rebuild is in the midst of their third season following the departure of Anthony Davis. But had the Pelicans retained Christian Wood, perhaps New Orleans would be further along.
Sunday evening, the former Pelican scored 23 points and pulled down eight rebounds against his old team, to lead the Houston Rockets to a 118-108 victory inside the Toyota Center. With the win, the Rockets prolonged the NBA’s longest win streak with half a dozen games following 15 consecutive losses.
Similar to the way Wood throttled the Pelicans, the Rockets had the same problem with Brandon Ingram. Ingram scored a game-high 40 points in the loss, but New Orleans’ All-Star forward did not have the same contributions from his teammates as Wood.
Sticking with the theme of a former Pelican making the night difficult for New Orleans, Eric Gordon continued his recent stretch of dominance with 23 points and five assists in the win.
The Rockets’ victory over the Pelicans was another opportunity for Houston to overcome adversity, with injuries taking a toll on the team.
Kevin Porter Jr. joined his backcourt mate Jalen Green as inactive guards out due to an injury. With both primary ball-handlers sidelined, it took a collective effort for the Rockets to pick up the playmaking slack. With Gordon taking the helm as the Rockets floor general, Houston recorded 24 team assists.
The one area New Orleans had over Houston was winning the battle of the boards. With Willy Hernangomez recording a game-high 14 rebounds off the bench, the Pelicans out-rebounded the Rockets 50-40 and scored 19 second chance points. Hernangomez finished the game with 10 points to complete the double-double.
Jonas Valanciunas joined Hernangomez as Pelicans who put together a double-double, by recording 17 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.
While the Pelicans pounded the Rockets on the glass, Houston avoided their streak coming to an end by containing their sweltering shooting from behind the arc.
For the fourth time over the previous six games, the Rockets shot over 40 percent from deep. Houston connected on 43 percent of their shots from the outside, with Wood connecting on five of his six 3-point field goal attempts. In addition to Wood, Garrison Mathews accounted for four of Houston’s 17 made triples.
Following the win, the Rockets will try to make it seven consecutive victories on Wednesday, when they take on James Harden and the 16-7 Brooklyn Nets inside the Toyota Center. Tip-off is slated for 7 P.M. CT.