Rockets 117, Pelicans 107 - Rockets Get Revenge on Pelicans

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Exactly seven days after suffering an embarrassing loss the New Orleans Pelicans, the Houston Rockets avenged that performance beating that very same team. The stars came out to play, but, in the end, the Rockets had more contributions from all around the floor.

Three days of rest didn’t seem to actually help the Rockets in any way whatsoever. Houston opened the game on an 11-2 run, but constant turnovers and a sudden hot streak from the Pelicans quickly reversed the score in New Orleans’ favor. NOLA quickly went on a 14-0 run that was stamped by a trio of threes, one from DeMarcus ‘Boogie’ Cousins and two from Solomon Hill (who would hit three total in the quarter).

James Harden caught a scoring bug early, as he scored 17 of his 21 first half points in the opening period. Despite his early scoring punch, the Rockets exhibited some of the sloppiest basketball played all season, turning the ball over 16 times in the first half (they average 15 per game). It’s worth noting that Harden was only responsible for one of these first half turnovers while posting a stat line of 21 points, seven assists, four rebounds, and two steals. Houston somewhat got its act together towards the end of the second quarter and went into halftime down by just one point (50-49).

Harden’s powers of distribution were on display early in the second half, allowing for the Rockets to regain the lead for the first time since the opening minutes. The Rockets looked much shaper in the third, refusing to commit a turnover until the very last possession of the period. With Cousins facing early foul trouble, picking up his third in the early minutes of the quarter, Anthony Davis picked up the slack and ran roughshod over the Rockets. The ‘Brow’ scored 17 points in the period and is always a problem on the glass, so Houston couldn’t muster anything better than a 80-79 lead by period’s end.

Houston opened the fourth quarter with an easy layup for Lou Williams and a Patrick Beverley three that got the crowd at Toyota Center to its feet for the first time in the game. Just when it looked like the Rockets were finding a rhythm offensively, Cousins got away with a two-hand push on Patrick Beverley, which allowed him to drain a three. Beverley made the Pelicans pay a few minutes later by hitting a three off a beautiful pass from Harden, and then by following up a miss with a phenomenal tip-in that gave the Rockets a 97-90 lead. A couple of threes from Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon looked to be potential daggers, but New Orleans would not go away.

Things got pretty chippy in the final minutes involving none other that Boogie Cousins, who hit Anderson in the face twice, once with an elbow and another with the back of his head. He then proceeded to drain a deeeeeeeep three in Anderson’s face. Harden and Boogie traded baskets, and then Harden did what he does best… draw shooting fouls behind the three-point line. Harden sank all three free throws and gave the Rockets a 110-105 lead with a minute and a half left to play. Following some stoppage of play to treat a Ryan Anderson injury (a twisted ankle), Harden hit a dagger from dead-center three.

Aside from James Harden’s expectedly fantastic performance, the Rockets got a big game from Patrick Beverley (17 points, including some late daggers, and six rebounds), Clint Capela (10 points, 13 rebounds, and 2 blocks), Trevor Ariza (eight points, nine rebounds), and the tandem of Anderson and Gordon contributed a combined 27 points.

Game Ball 

This is a segment of the game recaps that will give the proverbial game ball to a player that proved to be most valuable to the Rockets on a given night. This award won’t necessarily go to the player that puts up the best numbers, but to the player that made the greatest impact on the team – tangible or intangible.

Friday’s game ball goes to James Harden.

Harden was magnificent yet again, scoring 38 points on just 12 shots and dishing out 17 assists. He didn’t record a triple-double (a seemingly important feat nowadays), but he still hauled in seven and committed just three of Houston’s 18 turnovers. Given his usage rate, and how much the Rockets needed him to run the offense in this game, that’s an impressive feat to say the least.

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