HOUSTON, Texas (AP) — Eric Gordon and Christian Wood both scored 23 points, and the Houston Rockets beat the New Orleans Pelicans 118-108 on Sunday night for their sixth straight win.
The Rockets have pieced together the run after losing 15 straight games.
“At the beginning, frankly, we didn’t really know what we were doing, we hadn’t been through those experiences,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. “We had just had training camp and then game after game. Guys who hadn’t been through those moments and the more we do it, the better we get at it.”
Gordon said the keys to the winning streak were twofold: “Defensively, we’re competing, and offensively, unselfish mentality.”
Brandon Ingram scored a season-high 40 points for the Pelicans — the most since dropping 40 against Brooklyn on Nov. 4, 2019.
“I just got some open looks, got to my spots, getting to the rim and attacking mismatches,” Ingram said. “My teammates found me whenever I was open.”
Jonas Valanciunas finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds and Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 10, but New Orleans dropped their third game in the last five.
“Just seemed like we couldn’t get into anything with enough force,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “Then we just didn’t get enough stops … We tried to pick it up in the second half, it was a little better. Just got to make more shots, that’s what it comes down to. We did a good job of not turning the ball over, our assists could be higher but we’ve got to make some shots out there.”
Houston’s Daniel Theis netted 12 points on 4 of 6 shooting from the field, and Alperen Sengun finished with 10 points.
New Orleans cut Houston’s eight-point halftime lead to five with 10:48 left in the third quarter, but Gordon single-handedly expanded it back to double digits by scoring the Rockets’ next 13 points over a span of 3:46 to balloon the lead to 72-61.
In the fourth quarter, KJ Martin electrified the crowd with a massive putback dunk, which extended the Rockets’ lead to 98-87.
New Orleans clawed their way back to trail 111-103 with 3:04 left capped by a Valanciunas jumper.
Silas then called a timeout, having seen these types of situations where double-digit leads would slip away.
“This was a moment where we had to make sure that we maintained or increased it,” Silas said. “We did a good job. The bench guys were really good.”
Garrison Matthews, who hadn’t scored since the second quarter, buried a corner 3 with 18.1 seconds left to extend the Rockets’ lead to 118-108.
The 3 from Matthews was the 17th of the game for Houston. The Rockets finished 17 of 40 from beyond the arc, which was right at their average per game (17.4) during this streak.
“Having more shooting on the floor and being more confident in shooting the ball,” Silas said of the key to their 3-point shooting success. “Being more intentional about getting to drive and kick and making that extra pass.”
Pelicans: G Josh Hart (left knee soreness) missed his third straight game, though he did participate in some pregame shooting … Willy Hernangomez scored 10 points and grabbed 14 rebounds off the bench for his second straight double-double.
Rockets: G Kevin Porter Jr. (left thigh contusion) is considered day-to-day at this point, Silas said. … Rookie Jalen Green missed his fifth straight game with a left hamstring strain.
Pelicans: Start a two-game homestand Wednesday, hosting Denver.
Rockets: Continue four-game homestand by hosting Brooklyn on Wednesday.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.