The Pelicans got off to a fast 1st quarter, shooting the rock at a 57.1% clip versus the Rockets 36.8%. They also held a 14-7 rebounding edge and appeared to stifle the Rockets attack from the perimeter and around the rim.
Of late, heading into the 2nd quarter should have sounded the alarm, but this time, they didn't completely fall apart, taking a 56-45 lead into halftime.
As usual, Eric Gordon started off hot with 14 initial points, BUT when he re-entered the game, he added another 8 to his total! Anthony Davis also started well with 12 points, 5 rebounds, 1 nice block (following an amazing block by Jason Smith on a Chandler Parsons dunk attempt) and 1 Dwight Howard elbow. Austin Rivers also did some things as he got into the paint routinely and managed to cash in on several runners.
The 2nd half started with an Anthony Davis steal that was promptly followed by a Brian Roberts triple. However, shortly after another Gordon three, the Pelicans hit their typical 3rd quarter rough patch. A huge part of that was due to Davis picking up fouls 3 and 4 within a 7-second span, but, count them, six turnovers absolutely hurt.
Not surprisingly, a 13 point lead evaporated over the next 5 minutes as the Pelicans managed a meager 4 points. Meanwhile, the Rockets, and in particular Terrence Jones, started to have their way with us in the paint.
Yet, miraculously, the Pelicans regained their footing over the final 2:41 of the 3rd quarter as Gordon poured in 8 points including several bombs. Things looked to be on the up and up: survived a 3rd quarter skid (mostly without Davis), Gordon was in All-Star form and the Rockets were abysmal from the free throw line.
With an 81-74 lead to start the 4th quarter, Darius Miller went all-defensive team on the Rockets for three straight possessions. That stretch likely lead to him finishing the game as Aminu never appeared after going out with 5:08 in the 3rd.
The teams continued to exchange scores amid plenty of questionable basketball, but with 3:06, and a nice Roberts And-1 drive to the hoop, the Pelicans still lead 99-92.
/end Pelican highlights.
For the rest of the game, the Pelicans managed 1 made Davis free throw while the combination of Harden and Parsons would go on to score 12 points. Yuck.
These losses are surely beginning to wear on even the best of us. But really, should we have expected anything different? During our 7-game losing streak, it's largely the bad stretches that are killing us. We go through periods where the well runs dry -- missing bunnies combined with mind-numbing turnovers. We're just not a good enough squad, that's currently active, to overcome them.
- By his standards, Monty Williams coached a solid game. He was calling time-outs at the right moments and most of his rotations were difficult to argue. But (of course there has to be one), I wonder if it wouldn't have been prudent to go small and have Aminu cover Jones, especially when Davis had to sit for that long stretch upon picking up his 4th foul early in the 3rd quarter.
- The Ajinca/Stiemsma combination had 11 personal fouls in 32 minutes of action. That largely negates any positives, which of course, there weren't many. Perhaps by trying Aminu on Jones, it might have somewhat curbed his enthusiasm and his ridiculous 17-point 2nd half.
- Eric Gordon was an absolute stud for 3 quarters: 33 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds, 6 three's and 1 turnover. But come the 4th, he vanished. NO SOUP FOR YOU! Yes the Rockets were throwing a lot of doubles on him, but he didn't even try to beat it. His consistent deferring left the rest of the team standing on an island.
- Anthony Davis was his typical self posting 24 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block. Admirably, he tried to win the game in the 4th and he was succeeding, until the waning moments. Sure could have used a sidekick. Anyone? ANYONE?
- Jason Smith's jumper was largely off again so sporting the team's worst differential of -23 isn't shocking.
- Austin River's efficiency was awful but he had the 2nd best +/- on the night (+13).
- Darius Miller's had some highlight-worthy defensive moments so it's a shame his shot was off (1-6). Hope he really works on his handle down the road because he's nothing more than a spot-up shooter at this point.