NBA regular season

Lonzo Ball heats up to lift Pelicans over Rockets

Lonzo Ball heats up to lift Pelicans over Rockets

STEP UP. Lonzo Ball rises to the occasion for a Pelicans crew missing a couple of their key players.

Photo from Twitter/@PelicansNBA

Missing the last 7 games due to an injury, Lonzo Ball drains a career-high 8 triples as the Pelicans triumph despite missing Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram

Lonzo Ball hit a career-high 8 three-pointers to pace a balanced scoring attack as the New Orleans Pelicans fended off the host Houston Rockets, 122-115, on Sunday, April 4 (Monday, April 5, Manila time).

Ball, who missed the previous 7 games with a hip injury, paired 27 points with 9 assists to lead the Pelicans – who were without forwards Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. Six of his teammates also scored in double figures.

After Houston matched its largest lead of the game at 102-97 following a series of dazzling dunks from rookie Kenyon Martin Jr, the Pelicans responded with a 10-2 run to reclaim the lead.

Down the stretch, multiple hands played a role in keeping the Rockets at bay, with Wes Iwundu and Naji Marshall drilling timely three-pointers while Willy Hernangomez converted in the paint.

Hernangomez had 15 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. Eric Bledsoe scored 19 points, James Johnson put up 18, and Stephen Adams and Marshall scored 12 apiece for the Pelicans.

Kelly Olynyk led the Rockets with 26 points. Jae’Sean Tate added 19 points and Christian Wood finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Sterling Brown and Kevin Porter Jr scored 12 apiece for Houston, but Porter, whose buzzer-beating three-pointer to close the half ignited a third-quarter surge, recorded 8 turnovers and missed 10 of 15 shot attempts.

Houston trailed 70-56 before the Porter halfcourt heave, but turned a late 9-0 run in the 3rd quarter into its first advantage since early in the game. DJ Wilson and DJ Augustin hit three-pointers for a 92-89 lead.

New Orleans used a 22-5 run to build an early lead, with Ball drilling all 4 of his three-point attempts in the 1st quarter during that stretch. The Pelicans turned 7 Houston turnovers into 15 points in the quarter and the Rockets trailed 38-27 entering the 2nd period.

The Pelicans continued to capitalize on Houston miscues and closed the half with 18 points off 11 Rockets turnovers. Olynyk kept the Rockets in contention with 19 points in 18 minutes off the bench in the half. –