Mon, 29 May 2023

Pelicans earn much-needed win over Rockets

Field Level Media
20 Mar 2023, 11:55 GMT+10

CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram combined for 52 points and the visiting New Orleans Pelicans earned a much-needed 117-107 victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday.

McCollum finished with 26 points, six rebounds and five assists while making 4 of 7 3-pointers. Ingram paired 26 points with a team-high nine assists as the Pelicans (34-37) snapped a skid of three losses in four games to remain in the chase of a spot in the West play-in tournament.

All five starters scored in double figures for the Pelicans. Jonas Valanciunas posted 21 points and 12 rebounds while Trey Murphy III added 14 points and Herb Jones scored 13.

After the Rockets (18-53) sliced what was a 20-point deficit in half late in the third quarter, McCollum delivered a 3 and a driving layup that enabled the Pelicans to take a 92-78 lead into the fourth.

The Rockets' starting backcourt of Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. combined for 65 points on 18-of-37 shooting from the floor and 22-of-22 shooting from the free throw line. Green had 40 points, his fourth 40-point game this season, but the Rockets did not have a third double-digit scorer until Tari Eason sank two free throws with 8:08 left, and Houston had its three-game win streak snapped.

Similar to the start of Friday's 114-112 loss to the Rockets, the Pelicans got off to a scorching start, but this time they carried their hot shooting through the close of the opening period. New Orleans shot 57.7% overall in the first quarter, drilling 7 of 10 3-pointers while building a 38-28 lead entering the second.

The Pelicans were so efficient offensively in the first quarter that they recorded only one point from a spot on the floor other than in the paint or from behind the arc, with Murphy completing a three-point play with a free throw at the 6:32 mark that extended the New Orleans lead to 19-14.

The second period offered more of the same for the Pelicans. McCollum upped the lead to 48-32, matching the largest lead from Friday, via a 3-pointer with 7:49 left in the half before the Pelicans took their first 20-point lead when Jones completed a three-point play at the 2:04 mark.

The Rockets, meanwhile, shot just 6 of 19 in the second quarter including 0-for-8 from deep. New Orleans secured a 64-44 lead at the intermission on the strength of 16 fast-break points and balanced scoring that featured McCollum and Murphy combining for 27 points on 10-for-18 shooting while Ingram, Jones and Valanciunas tallied nine points each.

--Field Level Media

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