Rockets fall, 121-116
Three pointers from Rockets vs. Pelicans
Pounding the paint
New Orleans decided early on that they were going to exploit Houston's biggest weakness by relentlessly attacking the paint. With superstar big man Anthony Davis sidelined with a finger injury, Pelicans center Jahlil Okafor seized the opportunity to overpower Houston with his massive size advantage. Okafor finished with 27 points while the Pelicans as a whole dominated points in the paint, 70-40.
Despite being bullied down low, Houston never trailed in the match until the very end of the third quarter. Trailing by as much as 15 points, the Pelicans slowly chipped away at the lead inside, while double-teaming Harden and Paul on screens out on the perimeter. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for Houston, while conversely snapping a three-game losing streak for the New Orleans.
James Harden was as contained as we had seen him in the past two months - or at least as close as any team could hope to contain him at the moment. Harden entered the final three minutes of the fourth quarter with just 25 points, which put his unreal streak of consecutive 30-point scoring games at risk. A driving layup followed by a 3-point leaner would end up relieving concerns as Harden went on to finish with 35 points en route to his 24th straight 30-point performance.
Rockets Player of the Game
James Harden: 35 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals
Pelicans Player of the Game
Jahlil Okafor: 27 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks, 11-15 shooting
Chris Paul continued to play with a minutes restriction in his second game back from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for 17 games. He logged 26 minutes and finished with 10 points, 9 assists, and 4 rebounds.
Houston begins a four-game road trip Friday against the Denver Nuggets at 9 PM. Houston has won the last two match ups this season.