Harden and Ariza lead Rockets to 112-111 win over Pelicans
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- James Harden scored 35 points and Trevor Ariza added a season-high 31 to help the hot-shooting Houston Rockets beat the short-handed New Orleans Pelicans 112-111 on Monday night.
The Pelicans played the second half without All-Star forward Anthony Davis, who left late in the second quarter with a concussion after getting elbowed in the head by teammate Tyreke Evans.
Houston, which did not have center Dwight Howard for the third straight game due to a left ankle sprain, hit a season-high 19 3-pointers. Ariza connected on his first six 3s.
Jrue Holiday scored a season-high 32 points for the Pelicans, adding nine assists and six rebounds. He had a chance to win the game after New Orleans got the ball with 4.7 seconds left following a Houston shot-clock violation. Out of timeouts, the Pelicans had to go the length of the court, and Holiday's contested 35-foot shot at the buzzer did not come close.
Ariza hit a pair of 3-pointers as Houston scored the first 18 points of the third quarter to go ahead 76-60, and the Rockets appeared ready to coast to a win in Davis' absence. But New Orleans closed with a 13-3 run at the end of the quarter. Norris Cole hit a running, 30-foot bank shot at the buzzer to pull the Pelicans within 93-92.
The fourth quarter was tight all the way, with neither team leading by more than three.
The Pelicans went ahead for the last time when Holiday scored on a drive to the basket with 2:17 left, giving them a 109-107 advantage. He was fouled on the play but missed the free throw, and Houston's Patrick Beverley drained a 3-pointer as the Rockets went up 110-109 with 1:09 left.
Harden's fadeaway made the score 112-109 before Holiday's layup closed the gap to 112-111 with 28.3 seconds left.
Harden lost the ball on Houston's next possession, regained it and shot an air ball for a shot-clock violation.
But Holiday was guarded closely after taking an inbounds pass and could not get in range for a makeable shot.
Harden finished with 11 rebounds and eight assists to go along with his 35 points.
Ryan Anderson added 22 points for the Pelicans, who had their three-game winning streak stopped. Toney Douglas scored 18.
HOWARD BACK SOON?
Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said Howard might return later in the week. The game against the Pelicans was the first of a three-game road stretch.
"We plan on having him on the trip," Bickerstaff said. "He worked out today and we'll see how he responds tomorrow. He'll get an opportunity to work more tomorrow and then we'll see how it goes from there."
Howard had 10 consecutive double-doubles before his injury.
FREE THROW WOES
The Pelicans hit 13 of 28 3-pointers but were barely better than that from the free throw line, making 14 of 25. Their struggles included four misses in their first five attempts during the fourth quarter and Holiday's critical late miss.
Houston sank 17 of 21 free throws.
Rockets: The Rockets have won nine of 12 and are three games above .500 (25-22) for the first time this year. ... Houston has taken four of the last five against New Orleans.
Pelicans: Forward Dante Cunningham returned after missing Saturday's game against Milwaukee with a stomach illness but lost his spot in the starting lineup to Alonzo Gee.
Rockets: at San Antonio on Wednesday
Pelicans: host Sacramento on Thursday