Postgame wrap: Pelicans 121, Rockets 116

Pelicans (23-28), Rockets (29-21)
by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

HOUSTON – Discussion surrounding the New Orleans Pelicans over the past 48 hours has focused on just about everything but the fact that they still have 30-plus games remaining on their 2018-19 schedule. A group of second-unit players and deep reserves showed Tuesday that they don’t plan to squander whatever opportunities are available on the court from now until mid-April.

With five of their top six scorers sidelined by injury, the Pelicans stunned the Rockets in front of a sellout crowd in Toyota Center, rallying from a 15-point deficit to build their own double-digit lead in the fourth period.

“I’m happy for the guys,” Alvin Gentry said. “Because they played their hearts out the (previous) two games and had nothing to show for it (in wins). To beat a team of this caliber, and do it on their home floor, is rewarding. The guys we put out there, they play extremely hard, led by Jrue Holiday. He competes every night, it doesn’t matter.”

IT WAS OVER WHEN…

Holiday drained a pair of free throws with 3.9 seconds left, giving New Orleans a five-point advantage and causing Houston fans to head for the exits. The Pelicans won for a second time this season in Houston, the first instance of achieving that since the 2010-11 campaign.

PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME

Holiday contributed one of the most versatile games of his NBA career – and one of the most statistically unique nights by any guard ever. Holiday finished with 19 points, six rebounds, eight assists and six blocks, the first time a backcourt player has posted that line in league history.

Holiday’s impact was also felt on Houston’s stat sheet, with Holiday pestering MVP frontrunner James Harden into a poor shooting night. The prolific Harden finished with 37 points, but needed 32 shots to do it.

“I thought he did as good a job on Harden as you can possibly do,” Gentry said. “When he goes 11 for 32, and six for 18 from three, that’s the best you can ever hope for.”

FOCUS ON: A SATISFYING WIN

As he stood in front of his locker following the victory, Holiday discussed his appreciation for the contributions of teammates including Kenrich Williams (career highs of 16 rebounds in 30 minutes), Jahlil Okafor (a fifth straight quality start at center, this time going for 27 points and 12 rebounds), Ian Clark (15 points in just 18 minutes) and Frank Jackson (10 points in his first NBA start).

“It’s everything that I’ve already seen,” Holiday said of the potential of several less-heralded, young teammates. “We’ve got guys here who can play. Guys who can step up. I felt like we really utilized everyone’s strengths. Kenrich was a board machine, and he sits down and guards (on defense). He’s tough. We’ve seen this from Frank, multiple times where he comes out and plays very well.”

On Okafor, Holiday said, “I’m happy for him” before noting, “There’s a reason why he was the No. 3 pick. There’s a reason why he won a championship his freshman year in college (at Duke). Given the opportunity and confidence, he’s a load down there too (in the low post).”

Gentry: “It was a total team effort. Ian came in and made shots for us. Kenrich did a great job on the boards. Jahlil has been solid. The numbers he put up tonight are the numbers he’s been putting up since we put him in the starting lineup.”

According to Okafor, the Pelicans emphasized enjoying the experience of playing and seizing the chance to fill bigger roles. Four of the five starters Oct. 17 in Houston did not play in this visit to Space City.

“With everybody being out, we came together,” Okafor said. “The message was to have fun, play together, give it your all, and we’ll live with the outcome. We huddled up before the game and said let’s have fun, this is what we dream of. A lot of guys who haven’t been able to play had the opportunity. Let’s make the most of it.

“To get to the NBA, you have to put a lot of time in on your craft to be here. I think everybody just wanted to show how good they are. When we play that hard and play together, it gives us a chance to win.”

BY THE NUMBERS

6: Holiday’s career high in blocks. He called it “my inner Anthony” showing up, referencing Davis’ shot-blocking skills. “Trying to be the best defensive player I can, always hustling and trying to make a play.”

39.6: Houston field-goal percentage. New Orleans played the type of aggressive defense that it has often needed this season to pull out some of the tight games the Pelicans have not gotten.

126.0: New Orleans team scoring average in two trips to Houston this season. The Pelicans won 131-112 on Oct. 17.

Pelicans Center Jahlil Okafor Postgame After Defeating Houston Rockets

New Orleans Pelicans center Jahlil Okafor talks to the media after scoring a team high 27 points in a 121-116 win over the Houston Rockets.

Game 51: Pelicans at Rockets 1/29/19

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Pelicans Center Jahlil Okafor Postgame After Defeating Houston Rockets

New Orleans Pelicans center Jahlil Okafor talks to the media after scoring a team high 27 points in a 121-116 win over the Houston Rockets.
Jan 29, 2019  |  02:22

Kenrich Williams Postgame After Game High 16 Rebs in Win vs Rockets

New Orleans Pelicans forward Kenrich Williams talks to the media after grabbing a game high 16 rebounds in a 121-116 win over the Houston Rockets.
Jan 29, 2019  |  01:04

Alvin Gentry Talks Postgame After Pelicans Defeat the Houston Rockets

New Orleans Pelicans Head Coach Alvin Gentry postgame interview after a 121-116 victory over the Houston Rockets.
Jan 29, 2019  |  04:51

Highlights: Jahlil Okafor leads Pelicans with 27-12 vs. Rockets

Jahlil Okafor tallied 27 points and 12 rebounds in Houston, helping lead the Pelicans to a comeback road win over the Rockets.
Jan 29, 2019  |  00:00

GAME RECAP HIGHLIGHTS: Pelicans 121, Rockets 116

James Harden continues his 30-point streak with 37 but the Pelicans hang on for the victory behind Jahlil Okafor's 27 points and 12 rebounds.
Jan 29, 2019  |  00:00

Highlights: Jrue Holiday's 19 pts vs Rockets | Pelicans-Rockets Highlights

Jrue Holiday scored 19 points vs the Houston Rockets but was all over the floor in other areas, dishing out 8 assists, grabbing a steal, and denying 6 times to lead the game in blocks
Jan 29, 2019  |  01:59

Ian Clark Scores 15 vs Rockets | Pelicans-Rockets Highlights

Pelicans guard Ian Clark was third in scoring for the Pelicans with 15 points vs the Houston Rockets
Jan 29, 2019  |  00:56

Pelicans Defeat Houston Rockets 121-116 | Pelicans-Rockets Highlights

Pelicans highlights from the game as New Orleans defeats the Houston Rockets 121-116
Jan 29, 2019  |  00:58

Jahlil Okafor 27 Pts, Dominant vs Rockets | Pelicans-Rockets Highlights

Pelicans center Jahlil Okafor had a dominant night in the paint vs the Houston Rockets, scoring 27 points to go with 12 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Jan 29, 2019  |  01:59

Okafor Throws Down The Big Dunk | Pelicans-Rockets Highlights

Jahlil Okafor runs into the paint and finishes with a huge and-1 dunk vs the Houston Rockets
Jan 29, 2019  |  00:00

Darius Miller with the Nice 2 | Pelicans-Rockets Highlights

Darius Miller connects in the 3rd quarter vs the Houston Rockets
Jan 29, 2019  |  00:00

Darius Miller with the Floater | Pelicans-Rockets Highlights

Darius Miller hits the floater in the lane vs the Houston Rockets
Jan 29, 2019  |  00:00

Jrue Holiday Blocks James Harden at Buzzer | Pelicans-Rockets Highlights

Pelicans' Jrue Holiday gets the block on Rockets' James Harden at the buzzer
Jan 29, 2019  |  00:18

Pelicans Shootaround: Head Coach Alvin Gentry 1-29-19

Head Coach Alvin Gentry speaks to the media prior to tonight's match up against the Rockets in Houston.
Jan 29, 2019  |  02:37
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