NEW ORLEANS -- Houston guard James Harden exploded for 18 of his team-high 26 points in the second half, including eight of his team's final 11 points, to lift the Rockets to a 103-100 victory over the NEW ORLEANS Pelicans on Wednesday night at the NEW ORLEANS Arena.
Guard Eric Gordon scored 22 of his season-high 35 points in the first half and forward Anthony Davis added 24 points and seven rebounds for the Pelicans. Gordon did not score in the final 5:38, however, and did not touch the ball on the final possession.
Gordon's 20-footer from the left baseline put NEW ORLEANS on top 92-85 with 5:38 left and Davis scored nine of the Pelicans' 11 points in one stretch. When guard Brian Roberts converted a three-point play with 3:06 left, NEW ORLEANS led 99-92.
But Harden hit a coast-to-coast layup after a blocked shot and then made two free throws, and forward Chandler Parsons hit a driving jumper in the lane to cut the deficit to 99-98 with 1:33 left.
On the next possession, the Rockets worked the ball into Harden's hands. He took one jab step and then nailed a 14-footer with 28 seconds left to give the Rockets the lead for good, 102-100.
Gordon had 11 points in the third quarter, including eight in a 13-4 run to close out the period, as the Pelicans led 81-74. Gordon also played tough defense against Harden, forcing him into a shot-clock violation.
Gordon's 22 first-half points were just five points shy of tying his season high. Blowing past Harden on several occasions, Gordon made 7 of 12 from the floor and 3 of 5 from behind the arc. He also dished out five assists.
Gordon (14) and Davis (10) combined for 24 points in lifting the Pelicans to a 30-19 first-quarter lead. The Pelicans made 12 of 21 attempts (57 percent) in the quarter, while the Rockets shot just 37 percent on 7 of 19 shooting.
Howard picked up his third foul with 7:38 left in the second quarter, and he got his money's worth, whacking Davis across the mouth with his right arm while clearing out on a rebound and sending the second-year forward to the floor.
Immediately after that play, forward Al-Farouq Aminu, normally an abysmal perimeter shooter, hit a 3-pointer from the right corner and followed that up with two free throws, extending the NEW ORLEANS lead to 44-27, the Pelicans' biggest lead of the half.
NOTES: Rockets PG Aaron Brooks sat out the game with a sore left knee. ... With PF Ryan Howard (herniated disk), PG Jrue Holiday (stress fracture in right leg) and SG Tyreke Evans (sprained left ankle) all out, the Pelicans are relying on PF Anthony Davis for much more offense. Davis had recorded at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in four of his previous five games. "He's looked like a different player," said Houston coach Kevin McHale. "He's making a lot more shots; he's seemed aggressive offensively and much more sure with the ball. Last year he looked very uncertain, and this year he's looked very certain. He's just way more confident." ... New Orleans coach Monty Williams said Davis is ready to assume a larger offensive role. "He's more than capable of taking on more," Williams said. "He's going to have to learn how to play against the defense when it tries to take him out. San Antonio loaded the paint (Monday night), and that's when he needs to be a facilitator."