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Pelicans try to snap shooting slump against Rockets

Sportsnaut
Nov 10, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) drives to the basket against Portland Trail Blazers forward Drew Eubanks (24) and forward Trendon Watford (2) during the second half at Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans lost their last game while having their worst offensive performance of the season.

Meanwhile, the Houston Rockets lost their last game despite having one of their better offensive performances of the season.

Both teams will try to get back in the win column when they meet Saturday night in New Orleans.

The Pelicans fell 16 points short of their previous lowest scoring total of the season in a 106-95 home loss to Portland on Thursday.

“I thought they just played harder, and we didn’t play smart,” New Orleans coach Willie Green said. “They scored 21 points off our 17 turnovers, off of just mindless plays. That’s the ball game for us.”

Guard CJ McCollum continued to struggle with his shooting, making 6 of 17 shots against his former team Thursday, including 1 of 7 on 3-pointers. He battled illness this week while the Pelicans played three games in four nights in three different cities.

McCollum made 12 of 41 field-goal attempts (29.3 percent) and 3 of 17 3-pointers (17.6 percent) in those three games. His shooting for the season is below his career standard as he is making 40.2 percent of his field-goal attempts and 29.1 percent of his 3-point attempts.

“I don’t feel the best, but we have games to play,” McCollum said. “We have things to accomplish as a team. The ball will go in, and we’ll win some games. Everything will be great, but this is just a tough part of the season.

“This is what really builds character. Everything isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be hard and difficult. We’re supposed to go through some trials and tribulations. It’s about how you respond, and I’m one to respond, and I think this team is one to respond. I’m not worried about it. I’ll take some vitamin C, and I’ll be all right.”

The Rockets, who had a season-high 31 assists in a 134-127 victory at Orlando on Monday, nearly matched that total two nights later at Toronto.

They finished with 29 assists but couldn’t keep up with Fred VanVleet and the Raptors, falling 116-109.

“We have a good group of unselfish guys,” Houston coach Stephen Silas said. “I continue to preach ball movement. We want to be a hard-playing team that plays together on both ends of the floor. We were that (in Toronto). We just came up short.”

Kevin Porter Jr. finished with 11 assists, the same number the Rockets had as a team as they raced to a 37-29 lead after the first quarter.

“I thought Kevin did a great job of getting the ball in the paint and making plays for his teammates,” Silas said.

But VanVleet took over in the second half and four turnovers by Houston in the fourth quarter led to 10 Toronto points. Overall, the Raptors scored 31 points off 16 Rockets turnovers.

“Those turnovers killed us down the stretch,” Jalen Green said. “We’ve got to control that ball.”

Houston has lost seven of its last eight games and is 1-8 on the road. New Orleans is 2-2 at home as it plays the second game of a six-game home-stand.

–Field Level Media