The Houston Rockets on Sunday afternoon beat the visiting New Orleans Pelicans 117-109, with James Harden scoring 40 points, and falling short of an assist to end up with a triple-double.
Making 7 of 15 3-point attempts, Harden also had nine assists and 10 rebounds. In the Pelicans camp, Ingram scored 28 points while Williamson and Hart chipped in with 21 and 16 respectively. However, it was not enough to help the Pelicans prevail.
Westbrook and McLemore assist Harden
New Orleans finished with a 63-43 advantage on the glass but was undone by 23 turnovers that Houston converted into 29 points. Five Pelicans posted double-digit rebounds: Brandon Ingram (12), Derrick Favors and Lonzo Ball (11 each), and Zion Williamson and Josh Hart (10 apiece).
Westbrook and reserve Ben McLemore, each scored 22 points to help Harden with the scoring load while Danuel House Jr. posted a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds. There were 14 ties and 10 lead changes. Neither team held a double-digit advantage. The first half boiled down to the Pelicans' dominance on the glass and their lack of ball security.
Harden posted 14 first-quarter points. He scored 12 of the Rockets' 14 points during one span, contributing two 3s and two three-point plays. But it wasn't until McLemore followed a Thabo Sefolosha corner 3 with a 3-pointer of his own that Houston fashioned a tie at 28, and when McLemore added a cutting layup with 44.8 seconds left, the Rockets carried a 30-28 lead into the second quarter.
Pelicans let the lead slip
Houston scored 13 points off 10 first-quarter turnovers by the Pelicans. New Orleans did a superior job of minimizing mistakes in the second quarter (four turnovers) yet maintained their authority on the glass, capping the first half with a plus-21 rebounding advantage. The Pelicans grabbed 11 offensive boards, four by Williamson, prior to the intermission, and their 15 second-chance points came primarily at the rim, contributing to their 51.1 percent shooting by halftime.
Williamson had 15 points at the break. Ingram scored 16 points in third period as the Pelicans briefly seized control. His 3-pointer with 7:19 left gave the Pelicans a 75-72 lead, but when McLemore sank two free throws with 0.8 seconds left in the frame, New Orleans' lead was down to 93-92 entering the fourth quarter.