• Print

Game Day: Rockets vs. Pelcians

Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverley returned from injury and sparked Houston's come-from-behind victory over New Orleans.

  • Pelicans vs. Rockets
    James Harden scores 33 points with 13 assists to lead a comeback charge to push the Rockets over the Pelicans 111-104.
  • Jeremy Lin: 4/12 Postgame
    Jeremy Lin addresses the media following a comeback 111-104 win over the visiting New Orleans Pelicans
  • Patrick Beverley: 4/12 Postgame
    Patrick Beverley addresses the media following a comeback 111-104 win over the visiting New Orleans Pelicans
  • James Harden: 4/12 Postgame
    James Harden addresses the media following a comeback 111-104 win over the visiting New Orleans Pelicans
  • Dwight Howard: 4/12 Postgame
    Dwight Howard addresses the media following a comeback 111-104 win over the visiting New Orleans Pelicans
  • Kevin McHale: 4/12 Postgame
    Coach Kevin McHale addresses the media following a comeback 111-104 win over the visiting New Orleans Pelicans
  • Troy Daniels: 4/12 Postgame
    Troy Daniels addresses the media following a comeback 111-104 win over the visiting New Orleans Pelicans
  • Houston Shuffle
    Jeremey Lin forces the turnover and Patrick Beverley gets it ahead to James Harden who drives in traffic hitting the tough layup and drawing the foul.
  • Pelicans vs. Rockets: First half
    Alexis Ajinca scores 13 points with Anthony Morrow and Luke Babbitt adding 11 points a piece as the Pelicans lead the Rockets at the half 59-46.
  • We're Back
    Patrick Beverley steals the ball and quickly lobs it up to the big fella Dwight Howard who throws it down.
  • Lull 'Em To Sleep
    James Harden splits the defense on the drive and lobs it up to Terrence Jones who flushes home the alley-oop dunk.

The triumphant returns of Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverley were nearly spoiled by an injury-riddled Pelicans squad before the Rockets turned it on in the fourth and escaped with a 111-104 victory, lowering their magic number to clinch home court in the first round of the playoffs to just 1.

For 45 minutes, having Howard and Beverley back in the lineup did nothing to bring the Rockets out of the funk they’d been mired in during their prolonged absence. Austin Rivers and Luke Babbitt looked like All-Stars as the Pelicans picked apart Houston’s defense and had Rockets fans reaching for the panic button.

PHOTO GALLERY

Then, in the final 3 minutes, Patrick Beverley reminded us just how crucial he is to the Rockets success by knocking down back-to-back three pointers en route to tying his career-high of 20 points all while James Harden just did what he does. At this point, Harden putting up ridiculous numbers (like tonight’s 33 points, 13 assists) and hitting clutch shots with the game on the line has become commonplace. With a team that has been anything but consistent heading into the postseason, Harden’s reliability in crunch time is a luxury of which not every playoff-bound team can boast.

Still, a team with title aspirations simply can’t get torched by Luke Babbitt. Sure, Chandler Parsons sat out and would have most likely guarded him, but that doesn’t account for the 20 points each scored by Austin Rivers and Anthony Morrow. The defensive funk over the last few games was blamed on not having the best 2 defensive presences on the floor, but even with them back tonight, there are some wrinkles that must be ironed out by next weekend.

This was not anywhere close to the best we’ve seen the Rockets be this season, but they don’t need to be their best just yet. Disaster was averted tonight, but there will be more rust to shake off over these final two regular season games as Howard and Beverley work to regain their pre-injury forms and their teammates readjust to having them in the lineup. Tonight, it took 45 minutes to shake off a good bit of that rust, but with two more tune ups before the post-season, the Rockets can enter the first round at full strength.