NBA: Resurgent Rockets host desperate Pelicans
The Houston Rockets have found some efficient offense lately, and they hope to extend that into what would be their longest winning streak of the season — three games — on Friday against the visiting New Orleans Pelicans.
On Wednesday, at least seven Rockets scored in double figures for the second time in three games and the fourth time over their last seven, as they beat the visiting Los Angeles Lakers 114-110. Kevin Porter Jr. posted 27 points to lead Houston, becoming the fourth different player to pace the Rockets in scoring in the seven games since they snapped an 11-game losing streak on March 4.
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Houston is 4-3 since ending that skid and will be looking for a third consecutive victory — something the Rockets haven’t achieved since December of 2021.
Rookies Tari Eason and Jabari Smith Jr. have joined Jalen Green and Porter as Rockets’ scoring leaders in a stretch that has revealed a more confident bunch.
“We’ve been watching a ton of film,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. “We’ve been talking more about situational type of stuff that leads to good play, and the ball movement has been good.
“Guys have been coming in more confident than they were before. I don’t know what changed as far as confidence is concerned but … yeah, we’re finding some confidence. We’re finding that when we play a certain way, the right way, we can be in games and win some.”
The Rockets still have the worst record in the Western Conference but have rallied to just one game behind the San Antonio Spurs.
The Pelicans, who are fighting for a play-in spot, will stay in Houston for a pair of games, as the teams square off in Houston again on Sunday night.
Houston closed Wednesday 28th among NBA teams in offensive rating but over the past seven games the Rockets rank 10th in the league (116.3 points per 100 possessions).
Unlike Houston, the Pelicans have been unable to generate traction for the stretch run. New Orleans last won consecutive games five weeks ago and is just 4-9 since a three-game winning streak ended on Feb. 10.
Injuries have undermined the Pelicans most of this season, and they remain without All-Star forward Zion Williamson (hamstring) and reserve guard Jose Alvarado (tibia). Still, given the state of the Western Conference playoff picture, the Pelicans can’t afford to wait for optimal health to steady their ship.
To reach the postseason, the Pelicans will have to take a more assertive stance against their adversity and make the best of what remains a challenging situation and just 13 games left on the schedule.
“We’ve got to have more attention to detail,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “Our guys know how to do it. They’ve got to go out there and put it together and the attention to detail has to be there. And if a few shots are not falling, mix it up: Get to the paint, get to the free-throw line, throw the ball down to J.V. (Jonas Valanciunas), settle the offense down some.”
–Field Level Media
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