Russell Westbrook surpassed Magic Johnson in career triple-doubles, and the host Houston Rockets held on for a 126-123 win over the short-handed New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.
Westbrook notched 28 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists for his 139th triple-double, moving past Johnson for second place in NBA history. His two free throws with 6.1 seconds left built the lead to three.
The Rockets then clamped down defensively and forced a difficult shot from Josh Hart, who missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Hart scored 16 of his 23 points in the second half.
Brandon Ingram was exceptional for the Pelicans, who played without guard Jrue Holiday (knee). Ingram paired 35 points with 15 rebounds, both game-highs, and added five assists. He received support from Lonzo Ball (18 points, 10 assists) and JJ Redick (14 points). The Pelicans hit 18 of 50 3-point attempts.
The Rockets trailed by as many as eight points late in the third quarter before stabilizing themselves, committing just two turnovers in the fourth quarter after allowing 23 points on 17 turnovers before that point. Westbrook was the linchpin of the run to the lead, fueling a critical 13-0 spree from the final minute of the third through the first two minutes of the fourth.
James Harden scored 29 points for the Rockets but shot just 8 of 29, including 2 of 18 from 3-point range, and had eight turnovers. PJ Tucker added 16 points, while Clint Capela and Danuel House scored 15 apiece for the Rockets.
Ingram announced himself as capable of shouldering a larger load for the short-handed Pelicans, and he did so early, scoring nine first-quarter points to help steady a shaky ship.
New Orleans committed eight turnovers in the opening period to help spur a Rockets offense already clicking with superb ball distribution. Houston assisted on nine of its 12 field goals in the first and led by as many as 10.
While the Rockets missed all eight of their 3-point attempts in the second quarter, the Pelicans fashioned a comeback. Ball started drilling perimeter jumpers, and by the intermission, he’d posted 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting, 3 for 5 from behind the arc.
Ingram had 18 points in the half, as the Pelicans nailed 10 3s in the second and pulled even at 61-61 by the break.
—Field Level Media