Both teams went back and forth throughout the contest but as expected, the Rockets pushed the tempo right when they needed it. Aided by a 19-6 run in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, Houston was able to outscore New Orleans on their route to a much-needed 107-98 win.
Much has been talked about how the Rockets are built to contend this season with the addition of Dwight Howard and even though they have a very good record to start the campaign, this was another example of how much the team has grown in recent weeks. James Harden is the undisputed leader of the team on the court, Howard is a strong presence in the middle and the complementary pieces like Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin are getting more and more important to the team’s success.
Today was no different as the starters come out big right when they needed it. James Harden scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, Lin added 10 more and Howard had one of his best games as a Rockets member with 24 points and 18 rebounds. The Pelicans played with grit and showed a huge effort looking to compete but Houston was simply the better team and their experience down the stretch turned out to be the decisive factor in a tight contest.
With the win, the Rockets solidified their status as one of the top teams in the Western Conference not solely based on their record but also on how they are responding to the challenges of a tough season. If they can keep winning these close games, the team should be able to get more and more confidence looking towards a probable playoff run.