NBA Game Summary - New Orleans at Houston
Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - James Harden scored 33 points with 13 assists and the Houston Rockets erased a 13-point halftime deficit, defeating the New Orleans Pelicans, 111-104, on Saturday.
Houston, which snapped a two-game losing streak, moved a game ahead of Portland for fourth place in the Western Conference with two games remaining for each team.
Patrick Beverley scored 20 points in his return from an eight-game absence due to a knee injury and Jeremy Lin added 18 points off the bench in the win.
Dwight Howard also returned from an eight-game absence for the Rockets with an ankle injury and recorded 13 points with six rebounds in 29 minutes of action.
"We had that 'pull a rabbit out your hat' tonight," said Rockets coach Kevin McHale, whose club ended the game on a 15-0 run. "We have got to get another win before our season ends to guarantee home-court in the first round. That's what we want."
The Pelicans were playing without Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans and Brian Roberts.
Luke Babbitt posted a career-high 24 points, while Austin Rivers and Anthony Morrow added 20 points apiece in the setback, New Orleans' eighth straight defeat.
"Down the stretch they made play after play," said Pelicans coach Monty Williams. "It was a tough, tough physical game."
Terrence Jones hit two free throws after a Lin trey to cut Houston's deficit to five with under four minutes to go in the third. Jeff Withey answered with a running hook shot and James Southerland followed with a 3 to push the lead back to 10, 78-68.
Both teams traded baskets in the final two minutes, with New Orleans holding a 10-point advantage heading to the fourth.
Houston trailed by seven with two minutes left in the fourth when Beverley hit a pair of 3s to get the hosts within a point.
Harden found Beverley in the corner for the first make, then tossed it to the near corner again for Beverley, whose second 3 bounced off the side of the rim straight up into the air and in to cut the deficit to one, 104-103, with 1:36 remaining.
Harden followed an empty possession from the Pelicans with a driving layup that pushed the Rockets in front by one with just over a minute to play. Lin then slashed through the lane on the next Rockets touch to extend the margin to three with 33 seconds left.
Following a New Orleans timeout, Lin swiped the ball away from Alexis Ajinca and immediately passed it to Harden, who sank a pair of free throws to seal the win.
Earlier, The teams were tied at 39-apiece after Omer Asik split a pair from the line with just over five minutes left in the second. Babbitt then hit three 3-pointers as part of a 20-7 quarter-ending burst that staked the Pelicans to a 59-46 lead at halftime.