Pelicans look to snap mini-skid, extend Houston’s

The New Orleans Pelicans won’t have leading scorer Zion Williamson when they host the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night.

They won’t have second-leading scorer Brandon Ingram, either. But the Pelicans have been pretty successful even when they have been short-handed this season.

They are 6-2 in games without Williamson, 14-8 without Ingram — who has missed the last 18 games because of a bruised toe — and 4-1 in games that they both have missed.

On Wednesday, the Pelicans will face a Rockets team that has the worst record in the Western Conference and lost four games in a row.

“We don’t take anybody for granted,” Pelicans head coach Willie Green said after practice Tuesday.

The Pelicans announced Tuesday evening that Williamson would be re-evaluated in three weeks after he suffered a right hamstring strain Monday in a loss at Philadelphia.

Green said Ingram is making progress, but his recovery has been slow since he sustained the injury in late November.

“It’s not ideal,” guard CJ McCollum said of the injuries. “Obviously you want to be at full strength as much as you can throughout the season. But (Green) talked about it, it gives other guys an opportunity. A lot of guys work hard and don’t necessarily get to play all the time.”

New Orleans is coming off back-to-back road losses, which began on Saturday night in Memphis, but they have won 14 of their last 16 games at home.

That stretch of home success began with a 119-106 victory against Houston on Nov. 12. Williamson scored 26 and Ingram had 20 in that one. Reserve Larry Nance Jr. added 22, but Nance (neck) was ruled out for Wednesday.

The Rockets are coming off a 111-106 loss to the visiting Dallas Mavericks on Monday in which they lost an 18-point second-half lead. They still had a 100-93 lead midway through the fourth quarter, but the Mavericks went on a 14-4 run to take the lead for good.

Houston was outscored 28-19 in the fourth quarter and lost for the ninth time in 10 games.

“We were getting our shots,” said Kevin Porter, who led the Rockets with 25 points. “There were a couple missed plays, but that what happens. It’s a long game. It’s the fourth quarter, trying to execute, trying to get shots in, and it just didn’t turn our way.”

The Rockets played better against Dallas than they did in a 108-88 loss to the Knicks on Saturday night. But the frustration over the losing streak and the poor start to the season is showing.

After the loss to New York, guard Eric Gordon said he hasn’t seen any improvement in the team since the start of the season.

Houston coach Stephen Silas said he understood Gordon’s frustration, but he didn’t “necessarily agree with how he went about it.”

“Rebuilding is hard,” Silas said. “It’s hard on everybody.”

The Southwest Division rivals will meet twice in Houston on March 17 and 19 to conclude the season series.

–Field Level Media