Pelicans Fall To Rockets, Still Control Playoff Fate
After receiving some help from the Indiana Pacers, the New Orleans Pelicans were in prime position to inch closer to their playoff goal, but the Houston Rockets had other ideas.
With the game tied at 86 after three quarters in Houston, the Rockets took advantage of poor pick and roll defense by the Pelicans, fast break points, and free throws to claim a 121-114 victory.
About an hour before the finish in Houston, the Pacers earned a 116-104 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Indianapolis, keeping the Pels and Thunder even at 43-37, but New Orleans still has the edge by owning the tiebreaker.
"Everything is still in our favor," said Pelicans coach Monty Williams after the loss. "We've got to recognize that but at the same time play better."
For nearly three quarters, the Pelicans played pretty good, with superstar Anthony Davis leading the way offensively with 27 points.
Jrue Holiday was fantastic in 15 minutes for New Orleans, scoring 17 on 7-9 shooting, to go along with 2 steals and 2 assists. Holiday's minutes are limited being that he returned from a 41 game absence on Friday night due to a stress reaction in his leg.
With Jrue playing well, Williams would love to play his guard more, but understands the medical need to restrict his minutes.
"I'm tempted, but I can't," said Williams when asked about increasing Holiday's playing time. "I just can't."
Houston dominated New Orleans in one area on Sunday night, pace. The Rockets scored 21 fast break points. The Pelicans, zero.
"We've got to flush it (the loss) and move on to tomorrow's game," said Williams.
Monday night, the Pelicans travel to Minnesota to battle the Timberwolves (16-64), while the Thunder return to OKC to host the Portland Trail Blazers (51-29).
Portland is locked into the 5 seed in the West, as a win or a loss won't affect their standing. However, Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook was charged with a technical foul versus the Pacers, his 16th technical of the season. Per NBA rule, players who earn their 16th tech of the season are suspended for the following game. OKC will surely appeal the tech. *Over the last 4 seasons, roughly 2% of appealed technical fouls this season have been rescinded by the league. (*per Michael McNamra)
New Orleans final game is Wednesday at home against the red hot, defending champion San Antonio Spurs (55-26), while OKC's final game is Wednesday at Minnesota.