New Orleans, LA (SportsNetwork.com) - James Harden scored 25 points with 10 assists and six rebounds to help the Houston Rockets to a 95-93 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.
Trevor Ariza had 22 points with nine rebounds and five assists, while Donatas Motiejunas added 21 points and eight rebounds for Houston.
The Rockets welcomed one defensive star back to their lineup, but received concerning news about another.
The good news is that Dwight Howard returned from a two-month absence because of a knee injury and scored four points with seven rebounds in 16 1/2 minutes.
The bad news is that Patrick Beverley may be out for a substantial amount of time. Houston head coach Kevin McHale told reporters on Wednesday that Beverley's recent wrist injury will keep him out between 7-to-10 days before he is re-evaluated. According to reports, Beverley may have tore a ligament in his left wrist that could require season-ending surgery.
"I felt pretty good," Howard said. "It was kind of an adjustment period for me, but I'm happy to be back out there."
Tyreke Evans contributed 28 points and seven assists for the Pelicans, who lost for a fourth straight game. Anthony Davis recorded 24 points and 14 rebounds in the loss.
"It's a tough loss. That's what it is, a tough loss," said New Orleans coach Monty Williams.
The Pelicans could not gain any ground in the Western Conference playoff race. They remain 3 1/2 games behind Oklahoma City for the eight seed in the conference.
New Orleans came out hot in the first quarter, but Houston tightened it up over the next two frames to take an eight-point lead into the fourth.
Evans scored 14 points in the opening 12 minutes for a New Orleans offense that made 15 of its 20 attempts from the floor. His driving layup just before the buzzer gave the Pelicans a 34-19 lead entering the second.
Motiejunas opened and closed an 11-2 run midway through the second that brought the Rockets back within six, then Harden's layup cut the deficit to one before Dante Cunningham converted a jumper that handed the Pelicans a 52-49 lead at half.
Houston opened the second half on an 8-0 run with Motiejunas bookending the spurt with shots from in close to help the Rockets take a 58-52 edge. Harden made a layup late in the quarter that pushed Houston's lead to 11. New Orleans netted three free throws in the final 20 seconds to cut its deficit to 78-70 after three.
Former Rocket Omer Asik dropped in a layup with 1:16 remaining in the game that cut New Orleans' deficit to five. Following a miss from Motiejunas, Evans got a layup to go before Davis, who went 6-of-14 from the foul line, split a pair that cut the margin to two with 7.8 seconds left.
Harden then made 1-of-2 from the stripe and Houston chose to foul the Pelicans on their next possession instead of allowing a potential tying 3- point try. Eric Gordon made the first attempt, then intentionally missed the next free throw, but time ran out before New Orleans could get another shot off.
Houston outrebounded New Orleans 43-37 ... Quincy Pondexter scored 10 points for the Pelicans ... The Pelicans shot 20-of-32 from the foul line, while Houston made 9-of-12 attempts ... The Rockets snapped a three-game losing streak in the series.