NBA: Holiday's 27 enough for Pelicans to beat Lakers, Gordon scores 25 as Harden-less Rockets stun Warriors

Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon shoots against Golden State Warriors guard Andre Iguodala during their NBA game at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, on Feb 23, 2019.
Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon shoots against Golden State Warriors guard Andre Iguodala during their NBA game at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, on Feb 23, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

(REUTERS) - The New Orleans Pelicans got off to a hot start even without star centre Anthony Davis and cruised to a 128-115 victory against the visiting Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday (Feb 23) night.

And Eric Gordon led five players in double figures with 25 points as the Houston Rockets, playing without star James Harden, used superior depth to stun the Golden State Warriors 118-112 in Oakland, California.

The win was the Rockets' third in three meetings with the two-time defending champions this season after Golden State won a seven-game showdown last May in the Western Conference Finals.

The Pelicans scored 42 points in the opening quarter against the Lakers, the most in any quarter this season, as Davis rested after playing on Friday night at the Indiana Pacers.

Jrue Holiday had 27 points and seven assists for New Orleans, and Julius Randle scored 24 points against Los Angeles, the team that drafted him in the first round five years ago but would not re-sign him last summer.

Cheick Diallo matched his season high with 18 points off the bench, his fifth game in double figures this month after previously having three games in double digits this season. Ian Clark scored 17 off the bench, and Elfrid Payton finished with 14 points and nine assists for New Orleans.

Brandon Ingram scored 29 points to lead the Lakers after he was limited to six points in six first-half minutes because of foul trouble. LeBron James had 27 points, 12 assists and four steals, and Kyle Kuzma finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Lakers, who committed 23 turnovers.

The Lakers made their first seven shots and both teams shot better than 66 per cent from the floor in the first quarter, but it was the Pelicans who scored the final seven points to take a 42-35 lead into the second.

New Orleans, who led by 20 points in the first half on Friday night at the Pacers before losing 126-111, took their first double-figure lead two minutes into the second quarter.

The Pelicans closed the quarter strong again, outscoring the Lakers 12-3 over the final four minutes to take a 69-57 lead into the break, and Los Angeles never got back within single digits.

The Pelicans expanded their lead to as many as 17 points in the third quarter before taking a 100-84 lead into the fourth.

The Rockets' victory over the defending champions was accomplished without Harden, who has scored 30 or more points in 32 consecutive games, the second-longest run in NBA history.

After having been bothered by a sore neck in Thursday's loss to the Lakers, he was listed as questionable for the game even before waking up Saturday morning with what was labelled as flu-like symptoms.

The absence was just his fourth of the season. The Rockets had suffered defeats while he sat out two of his first three times.

With Chris Paul (23 points, 17 assists), Kenneth Faried (20 points, 10 rebounds) and P.J. Tucker (18 points, 10 rebounds) all contributing double-doubles, the Rockets ran off to a 20-point lead in the first half and retained a 110-96 advantage after a Clint Capela hoop with 5:42 remaining.

But the Warriors, who lost Draymond Green to a sprained ankle in the fourth quarter, used three-pointers by Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry to get within 116-112 with still 30.4 seconds to play. Golden State had to foul, however, and Tucker iced the win with two free throws with 18.1 seconds left.

Durant had 29 points, Curry 25 and Thompson 20 for the Warriors, who lost for just the third time in their last 20 games. Cousins finished with a 13-point, 14-rebound double-double for Golden State.