Behind the Numbers presented by HUB International: Pelicans at Rockets (12/11/17)

by Jim Eichenhofer

A look at three key numbers related to Monday’s game at the Toyota Center between New Orleans and Houston (7 p.m., Fox Sports New Orleans, WRNO 99.5 FM):

51.6: Percentage of Houston’s field-goal attempts that come from three-point range, meaning more than half of the shots the Rockets take this season are from beyond the arc. No team in NBA history has ever done that over a full season, but Houston (20-4) is on pace to become the first. Last season, the Rockets also led the league in that category, attempting 46.2 percent of their shots from deep, with Cleveland second at 39.9 percent. Houston is the most extreme example of the NBA’s rapidly-increasing emphasis on the three-point shot, with virtually every team in the league making a big jump in reliance on it in recent years. In 2017-18, New Orleans (14-13) is ranked 12th in using the three-point shot, with 35.0 percent of the Pelicans’ shots taking place from long distance. In ’16-17, New Orleans’ chunk was 30.8 percent, which was No. 16 in the league. Going back further in the data, during Anthony Davis’ rookie season of ’12-13, the then-Hornets took just 22.4 percent of their shots as three-pointers.

8-4: New Orleans record when it makes more three-pointers in a game than its opponent, including Sunday’s 123-114 victory over Philadelphia, during which the Pelicans won that category 15-9. Three-point shooting keyed a come-from-behind win in the fourth quarter, highlighted by Jrue Holiday sinking all five of his three-pointers in that period, all within less than a seven-minute span. New Orleans is just 6-8 when it makes fewer treys than its opponent (also 0-1 when that category is a tie). The Pelicans are in the midst of perhaps the best stretch of three-point shooting in team history, considering they have made double-digit trifectas in each of the past eight games. They have shot over 45 percent in three games all season, with all of them taking place since Dec. 1, topped by 62.5 percent vs. Philadelphia (15 of 24).

4, 5: NBA rankings in pace for New Orleans and Houston, respectively, since Nov. 16, when the Rockets launched their active nine-game winning streak. It’s very reasonable to expect an up-tempo game Monday when these Southwest Division clubs meet for the first time in the regular season, because both have been steadily pushing the pace in recent weeks. The Pelicans are averaging 102.46 possessions per 48 minutes over the recent four-week span, via, while the Rockets are at 101.99. Not surprisingly, Houston is No. 1 in the NBA in offensive efficiency during its win streak, putting up 117.8 points per 100 possessions. That’s significantly better than even second-best Cleveland (113.6), which has posted an 11-1 record during the same timeframe. New Orleans is ninth in offensive efficiency (110.0) since Nov. 16, going 6-6.