Harden: 'It was winning time'
The Houston Rockets were tied at halftime with the New Orleans Pelicans. They were up by just one point after three quarters. But they won going away, by again, playing their best basketball with the game there to be won in the fourth quarter, beating the Pelicans, 107-98.
It’s their third straight win and the last two had the Rockets struggling to get it going through three quarters, only to get it cranked up for huge fourth quarters.
Dwight Howard led the Rockets with 24 points and 18 rebounds. James Harden had 21 points and all five starters scored in double figures for he second time in three games.
Houston was up just 74-73 heading into the fourth quarter, but Jeremy Lin, who had not hit a shot (0-6) or scored in the first three quarters, scored the first four points of the quarter to push their lead to five. He scored 10 points in the fourth quarter after scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter against Memphis on Thursday.
“It's definitely not the ideal plan or ideal strategy,” Lin said. “I'm thankful that Coach McHale let me keep going. I was able to finally get a little bit of rhythm in the last two games. I have to do a much, much better job and be more aggressive in the first three quarters.”
Even with Lin’s awakening, the Rockets found themselves down four points with under five minutes remaining. That when Terrence Jones turned in the play of the night. Following an Anthony Davis miss, Jones grabbed the rebound away from a pair of Pelicans and started dribbling up court. When no defender stopped him, he forcefully went to the rim, absorbed the contact and foul from forward Ryan Anderson and softly laid the ball in. His free throw cut the lead to one and started the Rockets on a 9-2 run.
It gave them a lead they would not relinquish as they outscored New Orleans, 33-26 in the last twelve minutes.
Terrence (Jones) had a huge play on the rebound coast-to-coast,” Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said. “That kind of got the crowd back in it. We started getting some mojo going.”
The fourth quarter was full of plays like the one Jones produced and came from everybody.
“Chandler gets that big offensive rebound, Jeremy hits a big three, James hits a big three, we found a way to win,” McHale said. “But it was kind of another in a long line of pulling teeth.”
James Harden probably summed up the win best.
“It was winning time,” Harden said. “We got the ball moving and Jeremy made a couple of good threes. Chandler (had) a good put back and then Dwight got an and-1. Everybody picked up the intensity a little bit.”