Pelicans Stifle Rockets in Final Minutes for the Win

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Published: December 27, 2015

The New Orleans Pelicans (10-20) continue their erratic ways in squeaking out a 110-108 victory over the visiting Houston Rockets (16-16). Both teams played Christmas day, both teams split their back-to-back, winning at home. This victory leaves the Pelicans in 14th in the conference, but 3 games behind 8th. The problem is that there are teams that are 0.5, 1, 2, 2, and 2 games behind the 8th place Jazz, as well. For every, “The Pelicans just need to . . . ” there are 5 potentially easier “just need to”s out there. So, the “3 games” thing is a little bit of fool’s gold. Be wary.

Ergo, “The Pelicans just need to play more consistently, because they can play well enough to make the playoffs . . . a sub-0.500 is all that is projected to be needed at this time.

This game was a game of runs. Aside from a few tense minutes here and there, including the end, it was just each team alternating on a double-digit run, or thereabouts.

The pace was up there, as expected. The Pelicans held the offensive rebound rate down from their average, but not by much. Same story with the free throws and three pointers, but they made their threes at a higher than normal rate (15 of 33). The Pelicans also turned it over about like expected, maybe a little more, so those keys to the game evened out . . . which is why it was close. The Pelicans’ aggression on offense was the other key, and that did not fail deliver, at least often enough. The Pelicans got to the line more than Houston (26-20 free throw attempts). They also shot incredibly, 13 of 24 from three, 38 of 75 from the field overall.

Davis had 24 on 16 shots, and we know his performance would be critical to the game, but the guards were really the focus in the pregame.

Gordon started the game strong and kept it up scoring 26 on 12 shots. Jrue, who played 27 minutes in this second game of a back-to-back, scored 9 on 7 shots, and Tyreke had 11 on 13 shots. There was more to of their games, plus Asik had 10 points and 8 rebounds in one of his best performances this season, Anderson had 16 points and 5 rebounds, and Davis had 11 rebounds, but their defense was really the surprise. Howard was held to 7 points and 9 rebounds in 31 minutes, which is below his average and actually worse than Asik’s offensive output once minutes are considered, and Harden was held to about average. Also, as the game started to close, Harden tied the game at 108 with a three, then Davis brought the Pelicans’ score to 110 thanks to an assist from Evans with 2:14 left in the game. Those were the last points scored. The Rockets were harassed during that time, particularly by Holiday and Evans.

Evans had a rough start to the game, but his offense came to him late. Despite missing a shot during the close of the game, he had a block, a defensive rebound, and a key steal on the Rockets’ final inbounds play. Evans has had a tough time the past few days, and it would have been easy for him to quit and chalk it up to a cold streak. Evans has his issues, but, as I said elsewhere, he can play basketball. He may not be a long-term fit, but that’s no reason to write this guy off.

This was a good win, and if the defense is starting to take hold, the Pelicans may be ready to take advantage of an easier schedule that is not too far away.

The Pelicans play Monday in Orlando at 6 pm CT (UTC -6) and is on the standard distribution channels.

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