NBA: Pelicans earn much-needed win over Rockets
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.
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) March 20, 2023
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.
Jalen Green dropped a 40 piece as the Rockets fell at home.
4 threes pic.twitter.com/aBUMEgyfC0
— NBA (@NBA) March 20, 2023
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.