Harden scores 24 as Rockets beat Pelicans 108-101
HOUSTON (AP) Ty Lawson has had a tough time in his first season with the Houston Rockets, relegated to the bench after opening up in the starting lineup.
He appeared to turn a corner Wednesday night, playing his most minutes since Nov. 14 to help the Rockets to a 108-101 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.
The point guard finished with 12 points and six assists in almost 30 minutes off the bench. James Harden had 24 points to lead balanced scoring by Houston, and the Rockets overcame a double-digit deficit.
''(Lawson) and James have had a bunch of conversations and I think in those conversations they are starting to learn each other, starting to figure each other out and Ty is able to feel more comfortable,'' interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. ''He got more minutes tonight because he deserved them.''
''It feels a little bit more comfortable,'' he said. ''I'm trying to find my way in the offense. I don't have the ball as much as I normally do, but I am figuring it out day by day.''
The Pelicans led by as many as 14 early, but Houston had whittled it down by halftime and led by two after three quarters.
New Orleans led by one after a 3-pointer by Toney Douglas with about 9 minutes left. Houston then used a 10-0 run, with the first five points from Harden, to make it 96-87 just 4 minutes later. The Pelicans had three turnovers and missed eight shots to help the Rockets pull away.
New Orleans scored the next five points to cut the lead to four, but Alonzo Gee slipped and fell while guarding Harden and he was left wide open for a 3-pointer that made it 99-92 with 3:13 left.
Anthony Davis had 29 points and 13 rebounds for the Pelicans, who dropped their fourth straight. It was the second game back for both Tyreke Evans and Norris Cole, who made their debuts on Tuesday after sitting out all season with injuries. Evans had 10 points and eight assists, and Cole added five points and three rebounds.
The Pelicans committed 23 turnovers that led to 27 points for Houston.
''When we needed a basket, we had turnovers,'' Davis said. ''It was tough and we just have to do a better job of taking care of the ball. They came up with some stops and ... converted them on the other end.''
The Rockets had six players score at least 10 points. Along with Harden and Lawson, Terrence Jones had 15, Corey Brewer added 14, Trevor Ariza 13 and Patrick Beverley 10.
The Pelicans scored the last seven points of the third quarter, capped by a 3-pointer from Ryan Anderson, to cut the lead to 84-82.
The Rockets were up 59-54 after five straight points by Lawson with about 8 minutes left in the third. But Davis got going after that, scoring five points, highlighted by a nifty, one-handed floating jumper, in a 9-2 run that gave New Orleans a 63-61 lead halfway through the period.
The Pelicans were clinging to a two-point lead a couple of minutes later before Houston scored seven points in a row to make it 75-70 with just more than 3 minutes left in the quarter.
Pelicans: Evans got a technical foul midway through the second quarter when he hit Harden in the face while the two were fighting for a loose ball. ... Evans had been out after arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, and Cole was sidelined with a left ankle sprain.
Rockets: Beverley received a technical foul in the third quarter for arguing a call. ... The Rockets blocked seven shots, led by three from Dwight Howard.
D-MO GETTING CLOSE
Houston C/F Donatas Motiejunas, who hasn't played since March, has been cleared to return to practice. The 7-foot Motiejunas has been out since surgery to repair a herniated disk. Bickerstaff said he has an idea when Motiejunas will be ready to play in a game but wasn't ready to share that timetable. Motiejunas appeared in 71 games with 62 starts before the injury last season and averaged 12 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.
Howard had 16 rebounds to give him 10,486 in his career, moving him past Ben Wallace for 30th in NBA history. Howard has had at least 15 rebounds in five games this season after grabbing that many just six times in 41 games last season.
Pelicans: Host Cleveland on Friday.
Rockets: At Dallas on Friday.