James Harden, Rockets Beat Pelicans Without Anthony Davis, Extend Win Streak

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 12, 2017

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 11: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets handles the ball against the New Orleans Pelicans on December 11, 2017 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
Bill Baptist/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets extended their winning streak to 10 games with a come-from-behind effort Monday night against the New Orleans Pelicans at Toyota Center.

James Harden showed his unselfish side most of the night with 17 assists but came alive as a scorer as well with 12 of the team's last 13 points, giving him 26 in a 130-123 win over New Orleans.

The Pelicans didn't have any problems scoring without Antony Davis, who was out because of the left adductor strain that caused him to miss three games earlier this month, but the squad couldn't do anything to slow down one of the top offenses in the NBA.

Houston has now won 16 of its last 17 games to maintain the best record in the NBA at 21-4 while the Pelicans are now 14-14.

The Rockets appeared ripe for an upset while trailing by as many as 13 late in the third quarter.

However, Chris Paul helped the team fight back after a quiet first half, scoring 18 of his 20 points after intermission, including some dazzling plays, via the NBA's Twitter accounts:

Harden, who mostly let his teammates do the work after scoring 48 points last game, then took over down the stretch, using a personal 12-2 run to put the game away for Houston.

Clint Capela also set a career high with 28 points on 13-of-14 shooting, adding eight rebounds and five blocks.

A high-scoring effort was expected with two of the five top scoring teams in the league, but there was no defense to be found early in the game.

E'Twaun Moore was the star of the show in the first quarter, scoring 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting:

He finished with 36 points on 15-of-20 from the field, knocking down six three-pointers in the loss.

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle discussed the performance from New Orleans in the first quarter:

While the Pelicans were lighting up the scoreboard, so were the Rockets, as they kept it close with just a 41-35 deficit after the first quarter. The home team eventually lead 78-76 at the half, with the teams making 24 combined three-pointers and some history, per Basketball Insiders' Ben Dowsett:

New Orleans continued to keep it close with some incredible individual efforts. In addition to Moore, Jrue Holiday set a season high with 37 points one night after scoring 34. Rajon Rondo had his first triple-double as a Pelican with 13 points, 12 assists and 12 rebounds, and DeMarcus Cousins added 24 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists.

Scoring hasn't been an issue in the games Davis has missed, scoring at least 110 points in all five games. However, defense remains an issue as the squad tries to overcome the absence of their All-Star center.

This was the first of a seven-game homestand for the Rockets, which continues Wednesday against the Charlotte Hornets before back-to-back matchups with the San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee Bucks over the weekend. The Pelicans will host Milwaukee on Wednesday night.

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