Rockets welcome Pelicans to town

Updated: December 28, 2013

( – The Houston Rockets have won two straight and will try
to continue their momentum Saturday night when the New Orleans Pelicans visit
the Toyota Center.

The Rockets have knocked off a pair of Southwest Division rivals, the San
Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies, for this mini winning streak. Both games
were on national television and Houston is just 3 1/2 games behind the Spurs
in the division.

Houston beat the Spurs by 14 on Christmas night, then one night later, took
out the Grizzlies, 100-92, at home.

James Harden scored 27 points despite making just two field goals and the
Rockets used a big fourth-quarter run to beat Memphis.

The Rockets went on a 19-4 surge with Dwight Howard on the bench, turning a
76-66 deficit into an 85-80 lead with 5 1/2 minutes remaining. Jeremy Lin
scored 10 of his 18 points during the surge, the last two on an over-the-
shoulder layup after dribbling the length of the court.

Harden was 22-of-25 on free throws. He scored the first Houston points of the
game on a 3-pointer then didn’t hit another field goal until there were under
two minutes left in the game.

“I couldn’t make a shot. I just tried to get to the rim,” Harden said. “We
were kind of stagnant throughout the middle of the game, especially the third
quarter. So, I just wanted to get in attack mode.”

Terrence Jones had 20 points and Chandler Parsons scored 15 with 11 rebounds
for the Rockets, who won back-to-back games for the first time since early

Howard finished with two points in just over 18 minutes of foul-plagued
action. He is questionable Saturday with a stiff back and guard Aaron Brooks
is probable with a sprained ankle.

New Orleans is in the midst of playing 10 of 12 games outside the Big Easy and
has won two in a row since a four-game slide. After disposing of the
Sacramento Kings on Monday, the Pelicans handed the Denver Nuggets a 105-89
defeat Friday night.

Tyreke Evans finished with 19 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, while
Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis each scored 17 points in the win. Ryan Anderson
added 16 points and 10 boards for the Pelicans, who shot 47.2 percent for the
game and scored 22 points off 17 Denver turnovers.

“We wanted this win tonight,” Anderson said. “We just played hard and kept
going after it.”

Evans is averaging 21.6 points per game in his last three.

The Pelicans are 5-9 as the guest and will stop home briefly for a matchup
with Portland on Monday. In injury news, guard Eric Gordon (hip) and center
Jason Smith (knee) missed Friday’s game and are day-to-day. Smith hasn’t
played since Dec. 18 in a loss against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Houston took three of four from the Pelicans last season and has won four
straight and eight of 11 at home in this series.