The Rockets fall prey to a trap game in loss against Pelicans

Jrue Holiday #11 of the New Orleans Pelicans drives around PJ Tucker #17 of the Houston Rockets
Jrue Holiday #11 of the New Orleans Pelicans drives around PJ Tucker #17 of the Houston Rockets /

The Houston Rockets lost to a heavily undermanned Pelicans team at home, suffering one of their most embarrassing losses of the season on national television.

The Houston Rockets have lost too many games that they should have won this season. Their loss on Tuesday night to the Pelicans was one of their most embarrassing defeats of the season.

New Orleans flew into Houston with Anthony Davis, Julius Randle, E’Twaun Moore and Elfrid Payton on the injury report. Before Tuesday, the Pelicans had lost five of their last six games and were the 13th seed in the west. They had won just seven of their 27 games on the road.

Outside of Clint Capela, the Rockets now have everyone back, although Chris Paul is on a minutes restriction. This matchup had the makings of a trap game and the Rockets walked right into the snare.

Houston got off to a red-hot start in the first, dishing out 8 assists and nailing 8 3-pointers, helping them secure a 35-28 lead after the opening period. They shot the ball well in the second quarter too, but the Pelicans kept their pace.

The Rockets fell apart in the third, giving up 35 points in the quarter. They allowed New Orleans to score 22 points in the paint in the third, as they had no answer for Jahlil Okafor.

The Pelicans led 114-102 in the fourth quarter with just 3:34 remaining in regulation, but the Rockets made a run. Harden scored 10 points in the remaining 2:17 of the game. With 21.9 seconds left, the Rockets had the ball and a chance to score and force the Pelicans to make both of their free throws.

However, New Orleans trapped Harden on the sideline, Harden attempted to break out of the double team and walked right out of bounds, which basically ended the game. He was trying to draw a foul, but didn’t get the call. Either way, he picked up the ball and just stepped out of bounds, even though he didn’t have to.

The Rockets were out rebounded once again, giving up 55 rebounds to the Pelicans to their 45. Kenrich Williams of the Pelicans, a 6-foot-7 forward, grabbed a game high 16 rebounds. Faried has rebounded well in his short run with the Rockets, but Houston’s lack of size continues to plague them both on the boards and against big, skilled centers.

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The Pelicans came in to this game missing four of their five starters and even after defeating the Rockets, they’re still five games under .500. These are the type of games that Houston has to win going forward.