New Orleans Pelicans vs. Houston Rockets: Live Score and Analysis

Matthew SchmidtFeatured ColumnistDecember 28, 2013

Dec 28, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets power forward Dwight Howard (12) controls the ball during the first quarter as New Orleans Pelicans power forward Ryan Anderson (33) defends at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Dwight Howard had 24 points and 18 rebounds and James Harden and Jeremy Lin had big fourth quarters as the Houston Rockets beat the pesky New Orleans Pelicans, 107-98, on Saturday night.

The Pelicans had no answer for Howard in this one, as the Rockets star big man took advantage of New Orleans' smaller frontline to the tune of a 10-for-12 clip from the floor. He also grabbed six offensive rebounds.

Harden and Lin struggled in the first three periods, but they combined to score 22 points in the fourth, including back-to-back threes to put the Rockets up for good with just under two minutes to go.

Houston, who entered the fourth period shooting 3-of-21 from deep, went 3-for-5 from beyond the arc in the final 12 minutes.

Ryan Anderson led the Pelicans with 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Anthony Davis had 18 and 16. However, the disparity in free throws ultimately doomed New Orleans.

The Rockets shot 25-of-32 from the line. The Pelicans? 6-of-8.

Let's break down the keys to this game.


Free Throws

Three Pelicans players took free throws tonight. Anderson had four, and Davis and Jrue Holiday each took two. Tyreke Evans did not get to the charity stripe.

This was simply an awful display of aggressiveness by New Orleans, as the team simply refused to challenge Howard at the rim.

The Rockets, on the other hand, did what they do best, getting to the rack and turning that into opportunities from the free-throw line. Four Houston players shot six or more foul shots in this one.


Too Much Dwight Howard

Yes, Howard had eight turnovers, largely as a result of double teams, but the Pelicans had no answer for Howard in single coverage, and it ended up costing them late.

New Orleans was able to get away with doubling Dwight early on due to Houston's struggles from distance, but the Rockets then hit three big ones in the fourth quarter, and Howard absolutely played a part in the floor spacing.

The big man outmuscled his defenders for easy dunks and overpowered them for offensive rebounds and putbacks.


Terrence Jones With Big Plays

The turning point of the fourth quarter was when Terrence Jones dribbled the length of the floor, hit a layup and got fouled, resulting in a three-point play that brought Houston to within one.

That was just one of the many great things Jones did in this contest, as the second-year forward posted 17 points, eight rebounds and a game-high three blocks. He also shot an efficient 6-of-8 from the floor and went 6-of-7 from the free-throw line.

Jones is playing beyond his years right now. I don't think people realize just how high this kid's ceiling is. He is going to be good. Very good.