The first quarter was an up-and-down battle for both teams. There were several lead changes, and neither team was able to pull ahead.
Houston went down by five points early, but an 11-4 run in the middle of the first quarter was able to get them back into the game and lead by as many as three. But with John Wall and Eric Gordon on the bench, the Pelicans would go on a run of their own and close out the first quarter 30-25.
Eric Gordon led the way for the Rockets in the first, tied for the team’s leading scorer with seven points on 2-3 shooting from the field. Danuel House Jr. was the spark Houston desperately needed off the bench, coming in for the second unit and scoring seven on 3-3 shooting from the field. John Wall bolstered the offense with six points of his own, including some great finishes at the rim.
Becoming a crucial theme in Rockets losses, Houston let a quarter completely get away from them. Poor shot selection and defense allowed the Pelicans to go off on a 19-2 run in the second quarter. It was also all done with Zion Williamson on the bench after Williamson got his third foul early in the second quarter — though he still managed to muster up 10 points in only seven minutes of play. Josh Hart would be the difference with Zion out, torching Houston for 12 first-half points.
In the half, Houston shot only 4-15 from three, and, even worse, they struggled mightily from the free-throw line, shooting only 4-12 from the charity. Wall kept the Rockets’ offense moving, somewhat, scoring 10 of Houston’s 25 second-quarter points, as he got whatever he wanted in the paint. Gordon kept his great play rolling with eight points in the second quarter, 15 in the half.
The Rockets were lucky to be down only 13 points after the half, 63-50.
Houston almost let the game get completely out of reach in the third quarter. An early-quarter surge from the Pelicans had them up by as much as 20 in the game. The Rockets, behind the great play of John Wall (nine points, four assists in the third) and Sterling Brown (nine points in the third) would go on a 14-2 run and cut the lead down to as much as eight.
Unfortunately, the Rockets were never really able to take complete advantage of all their momentum and New Orleans would maintain a 92-81 lead at the half. The Rockets’ 31-29 third-quarter win was the only time they outscored the Pelicans in a quarter.
Like clockwork, the fourth quarter, and the game, went out of reach from Houston after New Orleans won the quarter 38-20, getting the lead up by as much as 29.
Williamson scored 20 points and was a +29 in only 21 minutes of play. Josh Hart scored 20 points on 8-16 shooting and had 17 rebounds in 40 minutes. Brandon Ingram led the Pelicans in scoring with 22 points on 9-13 from the field, 3-5 from deep.
John Wall led all scorers with 25 points on 11-23 shooting from the field, 2-8 from three, and an abysmal 1-6 from the free-throw line. Eric Gordon had 23 points on 8-19 shooting, 4-10 from deep.
The Rockets continue to struggle on the boards with no Christian Wood on the floor. Houston lost the rebounding battle 55-37 — JOSH HART HAD 17 FREAKING REBOUNDS. The Rockets shot 38-91 from the floor, 13-43 from deep for 41.8% and 30.2%, respectively. Not looking to stop there, as a team, Houston went 12-21 from the free-throw line for an improbable 57.1% from the stripe.
Houston has now dropped three straight with no Wood in their rotation. If there as any positive takeaway from this winning drought, the Rockets have had the misfortune of playing with several players missing each night and had to play five games in seven nights.
The Rockets will look to bounce back on Thursday night when they take on the Miami Heat in Houston.