Houston, we have a problem

Story and photos by Christopher Taylor, sophomore at St. John the Baptist Parish STEM Magnet High School Program. Mentored by Nick Boulet

Sunday evening at the Smoothie King Center, the New Orleans Pelicans (31-44), hosted the NBA’s leading scorer, James Harden, and the Houston Rockets (47-27).

In the last two games Harden has dropped 57 points against the Memphis Grizzlies and 61 points against the San Antonio Spurs. Harden looked to continue his offensive tear against a struggling New Orleans Pelicans. With lockdown defender Jrue Holiday out with an injury, New Orleans Pelicans guard Elfrid Payton was left to try and stop Harden.

Houston Rockets guard James Harden pulls up for a three-pointer after, doing his signature step-back move. Photo by Chris Taylor

Harden showed his dominance early on in the game, finishing the first half with 21 points on 8-of-16 from the floor and 5-of-10 from deep. Even with New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis playing in this game, his presence was not felt; he only scored 12 points in 21 minutes of play. Harden’s play and Rocket’s guard Eric Gordon’s shooting shined in the first half, propelling them to an early 63-44 lead.

The Pelicans would trail the Rockets the entire game. After being eliminated from playoff contention the Pelicans have been playing uninspired basketball. The Rockets would hold the lead the entire game, their biggest being 28 points. The Pelicans were able to outscore the Rockets 25-24 in the third quarter, but still trailed 87-69 going into the fourth.                     

Even with a 18-point lead going into the fourth the Rockets didn’t let up. They started the fourth on a 10-2 run not allowing the Pelicans off their backs. Pelicans fans would begin to leave their seats and headed for the exits with more than five minutes left in the game.

Houston Rockets guard James Harden sizes-up New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis. Photo by Chris Taylor

Harden would go on to finish the game with 28 points, shooting 52% from the field in only 28 minutes of play, sitting out the entire fourth quarter. New Orleans Pelicans forward, Frank Jackson, finished as the Pelicans’ leading scorer with 19 points and a career high six assists. Randle finished with 15 points, one game after he only scored six points against the Orlando Magic.

In the Pelicans’ next matchup they take on the Atlanta Hawks (26-48). With only seven games left in the season, the Pelicans are preparing for a busy offseason, before this year’s draft. With their superstar, Anthony Davis, requesting a trade midseason, the Pelicans’ front office has to make a lot of moves this offseason if they want to bring life back into the Smoothie King Center.