Monty Williams was hoping a return to the Crescent City after an arduous, five-game road trip would energize his weary Pelicans.
But it was the visiting Washington Wizards who played with more intensity, holding off a furious late rally in a 102-96 victory Wednesday night.
Trevor Ariza scored 21 points and John Wall added 20 and six assists to lead Washington, which is suddenly finding the road more inviting. The victory was the second road win in as many nights for the Wizards, who have now won six of their last seven away from home.
"There was a stretch in the first half where we had five stops in a row and scored on all five which created the lead for us," Washington Coach Randy Wittman said. "We were a little sloppy down the stretch but it was a real solid effort."
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Eric Gordon scored 23 and Anthony Davis had 21 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots for the Pelicans, who were coming off of a four-game road trip that saw New Orleans endure a two-day delay in Indianapolis because of the severe winter storms that paralyzed air traffic earlier this week.
"We just did not compete in the second quarter, not to the level that they were competing," Williams said of a period when the Pelicans were outscored 33-16 to fall behind 61-44. "There's no excuse for that. We've got young guys."
Jones gets 9th double-double in Rockets' win
The Houston Rockets recently have developed a knack for playing great in the third quarter.
Coach Kevin McHale loves what his team has been doing after the break and wishes they could find that intensity early in games.
James Harden tied a season high with 38 points, Dwight Howard added 20 points and 13 rebounds, Terrence Jones got his ninth double-double of the season with 15 points and 13 rebounds, and the Rockets used a big third-quarter run to earn a 113-99 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night.
Howard got his first win against his former team as the Rockets sent the injury-riddled Lakers to their third straight loss.
"We did a better job in the second half of defending," McHale said. "It was a big difference in the game."
The Rockets trailed by a basket in the third quarter before going on a 17-2 run to take an 80-67 lead and roll to victory.
Jodie Meeks scored 21 points for the Lakers.
■ Patrick Patterson had eight points, four assists and three rebounds in the Toronto's 112-91 victory at Detroit. Chuck Hayes added five points and seven rebounds for the Raptors, and Josh Harrellson had two rebounds for the Pistons.