Pelicans Edge Rockets, 110-108


For the first time in a long time, the Pelicans preformed well in crunch time. Almost anytime the Pelicans have played a close game this season, you could bet someone was going to make poor decisions to close it out, and the Pelicans were going to fall short. But last night, they held it together.

The Pelicans played like a team, and not a collection of broken puzzle pieces.

For someone who didn’t watch the game and just checked the box score, Tyreke and Gordon would probably be given credit for the victory. Tyreke had 13 assists tonight, while Gordon had 26 points on 10/12 shooting.

Someone who just checked the box score might picture Tyreke dishing it to Gordon in the corner to hit clutch shots, and steal away the win.

In reality, Jrue Holiday was much more important to this game than Gordon or Tyreke. Despite scoring just nine points on 3/7 shooting, Jrue Holiday played Scottie Pippen level defense on James Harden in the final minutes that kept the Rockets from coming back.

Dec 26, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) shoots the ball over New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) during the first half at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden is a serial foul-call collector.

He excels at baiting guys into playing just enough physical defense for him to get a whistle. Gordon and Tyreke struggled to contain Harden, who shot 5/11 from deep on basically all contested pull up threes.

In the final few minutes, Jrue was glued to Harden and absolutely neutralized him.

Harden missed his contested shots, he was unable to draw fouls at the rim, and he lost the ball when he tried to barrel into Jrue and get him out of position.

Box score stats matter, but the eye test would have Jrue as the MVP of this win and not Tyreke or Gordon.

Outside of the final minutes, this game was a bloodbath.

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  • I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a game so close that included so many ten point runs.

    The Rockets gained a 10 point lead after the first quarter, and then the Pelicans went on a 12-0 run to close the half. Right out the gates the Rockets got themselves a sizable lead again, only for the Pelicans to dismantle it before the start of the fourth.

    Through the first half, the Pelicans trailed largely because they were negligent in their handling of the basketball.

    The Pelicans had 10 turnovers to the Rockets 5 in the first half, which is why they were behind most of the time despite shooting 60% from the floor and 61% from three.

    Also, as you may have realized, a season high performance from Omer Asik tonight.

    “The Turkish Hammer” took the league by storm tonight scoring 10 points (previous season high was 6) and grabbing 8 rebounds in 22 minutes. Also… wait for it… Omer hit 6/6 of his free throws in the final minutes.

    His old teammate Dwight Howard was held to just 7 points and 9 rebounds while hitting just one free throw, so I think we know who dominated who.

    On a macro-level, I’m not sure how to feel about tonight.

    If this team was going to win 41 games and be the 8th seed, and is now going to win 42 games and be the 7th seed then I guess I’m happy. Then again, if this team was going to win 29 games and get the 5th pick in the 2016 draft, and now they’ll win 30 games and get the 6th pick, I guess I’m sad.

    Dec 26, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Houston Rockets guard Corey Brewer (33) passes the ball around New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) during the first at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

    I think the correct way to handle this season is to blow it up, collect assets and flexibility, and tank for a high pick. I think that plan gives the Pelicans the best chance to compete long-term.

    More from Big Easy Believer

    Then again, if things really start to gel and the Western Conference is as bad as it looks then I could be convinced to go the other way.

    I just want the Pelicans to decide. To me, a 25 win season and a 45 win season are a success, while a 35 win season would be a total failure.

    Does that make any sense?

    All in all, good effort from the Pelicans tonight. they kept their composure and our “death lineup” of Jrue-Gordon-Tyreke-Anderson-Davis was able to close it out due to some clutch defense from Holiday.

    Is this win going to matter in the long run?

    I can’t say, but tonight it might provide solace to those who still think this core has a shot at doing something special one day……..