Rockets fall, 121-116

Three pointers from Rockets vs. Pelicans

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

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.

Tough loss

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.

Streak continued

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

Buzzer beater

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.

Next up

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.

The winner of the contest will be announced at a Rockets game in early April. Courtesy of Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau

This article originally appeared on InnovationMap and was written by Natalie Harms.

Houston startups have a chance at $10,000 thanks to the Houston Rockets and BBVA Compass' LaunchPad Contest. The application process begins on February 19 and concludes on March 5.

In its third installment, the contest is doing things a little differently this year. Previously, small businesses had to respond to questions about their organization and what they would do with the prize money. This year, with a special focus on startups, applicants are also being asked about using new technology to increase productivity.

"BBVA Compass is in a unique position and we want to leverage that to help elevate entrepreneurship through digital capabilities," says BBVA Compass Houston CEO Mark Montgomery in a release. "We are a leader in the financial industry's digital transformation, and have won multiple awards because of our innovative products and services in that realm. We want to create ample opportunities for a rising business through that industry-leading expertise. The Rockets are excellent teammates, and we are excited to unveil this new version of our collaborative contest with them."

Following the application process, BBVA and the Rockets will select four finalists before opening the contest up to fans to pick their favorite. The winner will then be announced at a game in early April. The winning company will receive, in addition to the $10,000, consultations with both BBVA and the Rockets executives.

"We are excited to partner with BBVA again for this annual contest," says Rockets Chief Revenue Officer Gretchen Sheirr in the release. "They have been best in class in their industry with their digital strategy, so it's fantastic that they will be providing an opportunity for other businesses to thrive in this space. We look forward to reviewing our fans' contest submissions and seeing the great work being done by startup businesses in our great city."

Continue reading on InnovationMap to learn about last year's Launchpad winner.

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