HOUSTON (AP) Anthony Davis knew he’d have to be aggressive with Tyreke Evans out with an injury to give New Orleans a chance against the Houston Rockets.
He did just that, and it helped the Pelicans to a win.
Davis had 30 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks to lead the Pelicans to a 99-90 victory over the Rockets on Thursday night.
”Right now it’s all about maturity and growing up as a team and realizing this is a moment, this is where we have to start growing up and learning how to win games,” the 21-year-old said. ”I think we did a good job of that (Thursday).”
The Pelicans trailed by one early in the fourth quarter before using a 7-0 run to take a 79-73 lead and they didn’t trail again. Ryan Anderson scored the last five points on that spurt to help New Orleans snap a six-game skid in Houston.
Jrue Holiday added 16 points with 10 assists for New Orleans and Anderson had 16 points. Evans, who is the team’s second-leading scorer with 17 points a game, sat out with a bruised right knee.
”We couldn’t contain the ball very well,” Houston coach Kevin McHale said. ”Holiday kind of got where he wanted with the ball.”
Davis was encouraged that they were able to hold Houston to just 90 points.
”We’ve got to realize that we’re a defensive team and when we defend, we’re a tough team to beat,” he said.
James Harden scored 21 and Dwight Howard had 17 points with 13 rebounds for the Rockets, who lost for just the second time in nine games.
Harden entered the game leading the NBA in scoring and had scored more than 40 points in two of his last three games. But he had a tough night by his standards and made just eight of 23 shots.
Harden made back-to-back layups to get Houston within six, but Holiday answered with a pair of baskets to make it 91-81 with less than 2 1/2 minutes left.
Davis scored four quick points to push the Pelicans lead to 83-75 with about seven minutes remaining.
The Pelicans opened the fourth quarter with a 7-2 spurt to take a 72-70 lead. Dante Cunningham started the run with a 3-pointer and Davis had a nice alley-oop dunk in it.
New Orleans had a six-point lead after two free throws by Cunningham midway through the third. Houston then used a 9-1 run, capped by a steal and dunk by Trevor Ariza, to take its first lead of the second half, 65-63.
Holiday tied it up with a jump shot before Troy Daniels hit a 3-pointer to leave the Rockets up 68-65 entering the fourth quarter.
The Pelicans were up by nine early in the third when Houston scored five quick points, capped by a nifty sequence by Patrick Beverley, Ariza and Harden, to cut the lead to 58-54.
Beverley and Ariza surrounded Davis and Beverley stole the ball as Davis lost his balance and crashed backward to the court. Beverley hit Harden with a long pass and he finished with a layup.
Howard had three blocks on Thursday to give him 1,691 and move him past McHale and into 25th place on the all-time blocked shots list.
The Rockets had trouble getting going in the first half and scored a season-low 17 points in the second quarter. The slow start could have had something to do with playing a tough back-to-back that saw them land in Houston at 4 a.m. Thursday following an overtime win in Denver.
New Orleans used a 5-0 run late in the second quarter to take a 46-39 lead at halftime.
Pelicans: Coach Monty Williams said they’ll re-evaluate Evans on Friday. … Austin Rivers started in his place and had 10 points and six assists.
Rockets: Kostas Papanikolaou returned after missing five games with a strained right knee. … Francisco Garcia (calf, strained Achilles) and Terrence Jones (left leg nerve inflammation) remain out.
Houston’s Jason Terry missed the second straight game to be with his wife who had the couple’s fifth child – a girl – this week. He’s expected to return for Saturday’s game.
Former Houston All-Star Tracy McGrady watched the game from a courtside seat. He received a standing ovation after a video was played in the arena with highlights of the game 10 years ago when he scored 13 points in 35 seconds to give the Rockets a thrilling come-from-behind win over the Spurs.