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Houston Rockets pull away late, defeat New Orleans Pelicans 120-100

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When players who matter played, the Pelicans looked much better than expected.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Alvin Gentry did not play Anthony Davis tonight, electing to rest the New Orleans Pelicans superstar. In a shocking development, there was still plenty to see as Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson made it a game for the first three quarters before each team's goals decided the game in the fourth quarter.

Anderson was excellent tonight, posting a double-double and continuing to knockdown shots behind the arc. After two really rough games to begin the preseason (4 points total in two games against Indiana and Atlanta) Ryno has shown that the outburst against the Chicago Bulls is sustainable. He looks more athletic and much more willing to bang down low for rebounds than what we saw last year. Is that related to gaining confidence after that horrific injury? Conditioning? Regardless of why a Ryan Anderson that can contribute on the glass makes the Davis-Anderson small ball lineup much more playable. On the night Anderson scored 23 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in 34 minutes of work.

Jrue Holiday played in both the first and second halves tonight, reaching his 15 minute restriction during the third quarter. I believe something similar is going to be the plan for Holiday at the beginning of the season with a 7-8 minute stint in both the first and third quarters for the Pelicans point guard. Once again Jrue did not disappoint posting an impressive 9 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists in those 15 minutes. Holiday struggled finishing inside the arc tonight but made up for it by shooting 3-4 from deep.

In another promising development Eric Gordon also clocked in 15 minutes of his own after missing a couple games due to back spasms. He knocked down a three while missing badly on another despite having enough time to pitch a tent and start a camp fire. He also had an impressive dunk in the open court, displaying athleticism rarely seen since his arrival in the Crescent City.

As the fourth quarter began the approach for each team became apparent. Trevor Ariza nudged over 30 minutes and the Rockets rolled out a lineup of Jason Terry, K.J. McDaniels, Ariza, Montrezl Harrel, and Joshua Smith. Those guys, with the possible exception of Smith, are going to be on the Rockets opening night roster. Alvin Gentry played Nate Robinson, Sean Kilpatrick, Bryce DeJean-Jones, Alonzo Gee, and Jeff Adrien. Only Gee's contract is guaranteed and at least two of those players will be cut by opening night. Unsurprisingly the Rockets surged back into the lead on the back of a 17-4 run in the first five minutes. Our friends over at The Dream Shake were just as perplexed by the minute load as everyone else still watching.

Gentry tried, for reasons I cannot explain, to match the Rockets by tossing Anderson and Dante Cunningham back onto the floor but they could not turn the tide. Houston continued to pull away as the fourth quarter progressed. Once again we were privileged to watch Anderson try to create his own shot far too much as Bo McCalebb, DeJean-Jones, and Chris Douglas-Roberts are not the trio to create shots for others at the NBA level.

Kendrick Perkins scored 10 points. I can't. Even.

New Orleans will have tomorrow off before playing the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night.