Know Your Foe: Rockets- Pelicans
The Rockets beat the Pelicans in Houston just over two weeks ago, 107-98. Two of the five Pelicans starters from that game are both out now. Guard Jrue Holiday sidelined with a stress fracture in his right leg and Ryan Anderson could be out for the remainder of the season with a herniated disc.
Anderson was hurt on Jan. 3 versus Boston, leaving on a stretched and spending a couple of nights in the hospital. New Orleans has not won a game since that night, going 0-6. They’ve also lost 12 of their last 16 games. He combined with second-year star Anthony Davis for 20 points and 28 rebounds against the Rockets in their first meeting. Holiday also contributed nine assists in that night, but has missed the last four games with his leg injury.
The Rockets are finishing their four-game road trip with hopes of grabbing a third win. They beat Boston on Monday, 104-92, behind 32 points from Dwight Howard. Chandler Parsons also returned to the lineup after missing three games with a sore knee. He scored 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds, but more importantly he was a catalyst for the Rockets turning the game around in the second quarter, outscoring the Celtics, 33-16 before halftime.
Who are the Pelicans?
Injuries for the Pelicans have been crippling. Anderson was their leading scorer at 19.8 points per game, and was leading the NBA in free throw percentage at 95.2 percent. Couple that with Holiday’s injury and also guard Tyreke Evans is expected to miss his third game with a sprained left ankle and the Pelicans tailspin is easy to pinpoint.
The sad irony for the Pelicans is that shooting guard Eric Gordon has missed only three games this season. That’s huge for New Orleans considering he’d played in just 51 games combined over the last two seasons. He’s been playing well, too, especially over his last five games, as he’s averaged 19.4 points per game, while shooting 49 percent from the field overall and 47 percent from behind the 3-point line.
Anthony Davis was already playing at an all-star level before the injuries to his teammates, but he’s picked it up as well recently. He’s averaged 22.8 points and 11.4 rebounds per game in his last five, up from his season average of 19.6 and 10.3 respectively. He also ranks first in the NBA in blocked shots per game at 3.1 and is sixth in the NBA in player efficiency at 26.57.
Pelicans Last Game
New Orleans is playing their fourth consecutive games against one of the three Texas teams and they’ve enjoyed zero success against any of them this season, losing each of the prior three and all six overall this season. On Monday, they lost to San Antonio, 95-91, allowing the Spurs to shoot 52.2 percent from the field. The Pelicans faced a huge deficit at the free throw line shooting 12-of-17 versus 26-31 for the Spurs. That was an issue for New Orleans that last time they faced Houston also. New Orleans was just 6-of-8 at the free throw line, while Houston was 25-of-32. Pelicans head coach Monty Williams noticed, but when asked about it following the game in December, he merely shook his head, for about 10 seconds, before declining to comment.