New Orleans Pelicans vs. Houston Rockets Pick & Prediction MARCH 19th 2023

Stadium: Toyota Center Houston
Logo New Orleans Pelicans
Logo Houston Rockets

-5.5 -110
227.5o -110



The wild swings of momentum did little to provide a clear view of the pending result, but for the New Orleans Pelicans, their arrival at the conclusion offered an all too familiar refrain.

In desperate need of a victory in order to keep pace with a collection of Western Conference teams pursuing a spot in the play-in tournament, the Pelicans coughed up a 16-point, second-half lead in losing to the Houston Rockets 114-112 on Friday, the first of back-to-back games against Houston.

The second matchup is set for Sunday back at Toyota Center.

The defeat left the Pelicans (33-37), who fell to 3-8 since the All-Star break, one-half game behind the Los Angeles Lakers for 10th place in the West entering Saturday.

New Orleans raced to a 14-point, first-quarter lead, surrendered a stunning 22-0 run that yielded an eight-point deficit, and later secured an 89-73 advantage following a Herb Jones dunk with 2:13 left in the third.

Despite strong performances from Brandon Ingram (31 points, six assists) and Jonas Valanciunas (22 points, 17 rebounds, four blocks), the Pelicans could not hold on. And while New Orleans has 12 games left to make the most of an opportunity to extend its season, every loss at this late stage feels especially punitive. Recovering emotionally on the fly is mandatory.

"No need to hang our heads," Pelicans coach Willie Green said. "We played a really good game. We came up short but we gave ourselves an opportunity to win the game and that's important.

"This team is playing with momentum, they (are) playing free. You got to make plays down the stretch and when we do it was great. We missed a few wide-open shots, wish we could get those back, but give them credit. They took care of business."

The Rockets did so by riding a sudden wave of self-assuredness. Houston improved to 5-3 since snapping an 11-game losing skid and is enjoying a season-best three-game winning streak.

For every moment in which the Pelicans appeared to wrestle control, the Rockets (18-52) had a response. And, reflective of recent play, Houston found contributions from every corner.

While Kevin Porter Jr., Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr. all drilled critical jumpers in the fourth quarter, with Smith knocking down the game-winning 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left, it was Kenyon Martin Jr. and Alperen Sengun who fueled the comeback in the final period.

Martin and Sengun combined for 16 points and seven rebounds in the fourth before handing the baton to Porter, whose transition 3-pointer with 2:13 left followed his steal and cut the deficit in half at 110-107. Green nailed a 22-footer off an inbound pass from Porter with 35.8 seconds left that pulled Houston to within one before Smith won the game as the third option on the final play.

Mere moments earlier, Smith was lamenting his inability to secure a defensive rebound that enabled the Pelicans to extend their final possession. In an impressive show of resilience, Smith shook off that low moment and delivered when Houston needed him to, another show of growth.

"We've had a lot of down moments this year," Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. "And we've been fighting through them and now we're finally starting to see that once we fight through them we can play and play well."

--Field Level Media

New Orleans Pelicans
Houston Rockets

New Orleans vs. Houston Recap APR 4TH 2021

Jahlil Okafor produced a season high in points for a second consecutive game while Jrue Holiday undergirded a patchwork rotation with a sensational defensive performance as the depleted New Orleans Pelicans stunned the host Houston Rockets 121-116 on Tuesday at Toyota Center.

James Harden led the Rockets with 37 points -- his 24th straight game with at least 30 -- and added 11 rebounds, but shot just 11 for 32.

Okafor paired 27 points with 12 rebounds while Holiday posted 19 points, six rebounds, eight assists and six blocked shots for the Pelicans, who were missing five of their top six rotation players and reeling from the trade request of All-NBA center Anthony Davis (who is also sidelined with a finger injury).

The Pelicans trailed by as many as 15 points and didn't take their first lead until 2:06 remained in the third quarter when Kenrich Williams (eight points, 16 rebounds) scored on a backdoor layup for a 90-88 edge. Emboldened, the Pelicans stretched their lead to as many as 12 in the fourth.

A collective effort uplifted New Orleans, which had dropped five of six games. Six Pelicans scored in double figures, with Ian Clark posting 15 off the bench while Tim Frazier added 10 points and 10 assists in 20 minutes. The Pelicans shot 51.1 percent and produced a plus-10 advantage on the boards.

Following a torrid start from deep, Houston finished 19 of 56 on 3-pointers. The Rockets actually twice appeared on the brink of running away from the undermanned Pelicans. Houston claimed its first double-digit lead just past the midpoint of the first quarter, with Harden converting a floater at the 5:22 mark for a 24-14 advantage. James Ennis' 3-pointer with 2:28 left helped Houston stretch its lead to 12 before the Pelicans closed the period on a 7-2 spurt.

Houston appeared undaunted, hitting 10 of 18 3-pointers to open the game before turning a 9-2 burst into a 66-51 lead on a P.J. Tucker free throw with 3:17 remaining in the first half. But the Pelicans scored the final eight points of the second quarter, with Okafor registering a dunk, a 10-foot jumper, and a two during that stretch. New Orleans cut the deficit to seven by the break and then held the Rockets to 8-for-26 shooting in the third quarter to seize the lead.

Harden's streak actually appeared to be in jeopardy, but a late spurt kept it going. He did not hit 30 points until a 3-pointer with less than two minutes left, then scored seven more points in the final minute.

--Field Level Media