Houston. Pelicans of New Orleans entered the Toyota Center on Tuesday, missing five of the top six scorers due to injuries, and in the middle of a firestorm in the media the day after Anthony Davis’s franchise news became a trade request.
Pelicans managed to escape with 121-116 victories over the Rockets, a stunning disappointment, given the circumstances.
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“I think it’s more about the team tonight than anything else,” said Pelican coach Alvin Gentry. “We have a good group. All that we are talking about and all that we talked about is that we have enough guys to replenish the team, and if we have enough guys to make a team, then we need to play for everyone. ” others, play hard and play disinterestedly. This is the only thing we talked about, and I think we did all three evenings. ”
Pelicans rallied due to a 15-point deficit, choosing Missile’s careless defense and breaking the rhythm of the Houston star James Harden.
While Harden extended his series of more than 30 points in 24 games – the race, surpassed only by Wilt Chamberlain – he had one of his least effective appearances of the season. Harden was 11 out of 32 from the floor and 6 out of 18 out of 3 points.
Jrue Holiday, Pelicans' only available regular starter, earned most of the credit for Harden's relative struggle. New Orleans was often trapped in Harden, trying to knock the ball out of his hands, but Holiday led the defensive against the ruling MVP. Holiday joked that he sent “my inner Anthony” with career six blocks, including five shots of Harden.
“Jrue Holiday is probably one of the best defenders in the league, if not the best,” said Rockets coach Mike Anthony. "Obviously, he did a hell of a lot of work on it."
Pelicans Center Jahlil Okafor, former collector No. 3, which is a land improvement project, continued its impressive production, playing tough minutes due to injuries to Davis (finger), Nicola Mirotic (calf) and Julius Randle (ankle). Okafora had a team of 27 points and 12 rebounds in 37 minutes.
Pelicans also received an unexpected boost from the bench from newcomer Kenrich Williams, whose 16 rebounds against the Rockets exceeded his last season.
“The idea was to just have fun, play together, give all our strength, and we can live with the result,” said Ocafor, who spent his third evening with 20 points and the fourth double-double in the last five games. "We were able to go out with W."
James Harden says that the Rockets "had no energy" in their 121-116 home losses for the Pelicans, explaining how this was a "disappointment."
Pelicans understate the distractions associated with the situation with Davis, whose agent Rich Paul informed the New Orleans leadership that the long-term big All-Star man would reject the proposal to extend the Supermax contract this summer and would prefer to trade.
“We are here to play basketball,” said Holiday, who had 19 points, six rebounds and eight assists, in addition to his six blocks. “Everyone who was in this locker room got here because of their ability to play. Given the opportunity, given the support of coaches and teammates with each other, playing with these guys is pretty easy. ”
Davis treated his teammates to a seafood dinner in Houston on Monday evening and watched the victory on Tuesday on a bench in street clothes. He offered pointers to young pelicans throughout the game and smiled when New Orleans (23-28) completed the victory after a rally on the late Missiles.
For Houston, it was a bitter way by the end of January, when Harden scored an average of 43.6 points and became the first player with Michael Jordan in March 1987 scored 600 points a month. The “rockets” (29–21) mourned the lack of energy and attention to details of protection, allowing pelicans to shoot 51.1 percent of the floor with short arms.
"A terrible loss for us," said Harden. "Awful. Disappointment."