Old Man Saves The Rockets

Anthony Davis dumbly dissed as Old Man Point Guard goes Ricky Rubio and saves the Rockets (for now)

Anthony Davis dumbly dissed as Old Man Point Guard goes Ricky Rubio

Prigioni Rockets
Pablo Prigioni — the Houston Rockets' Old Man Point Guard — almost looked like Ricky Rubio in one critical fourth quarter play. Courtesy of Hoops Insider
Anthony Davis jersey
Anthony Davis found himself virtually froze out of the New Orleans Pelicans offense in the fourth quarter. Courtesy of Hoops Insider
Dwight Howard Rockets
Dwight Howard is reintroducing himself to the Houston Rockets offense and so far the results are promising. Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Prigioni Rockets
Anthony Davis jersey
Dwight Howard Rockets

Pablo Prigioni has so much basketball wear on his tread that if Carfax did used point guard reports he'd be listed as definite don't buy.

There is no way to recommend this 37-year-old Argentine-Italian point guard — unless he's on your team, helping win an important NBA game in the fourth quarter. And that's exactly where Prigioni is for the Houston Rockets against the New Orleans Pelicans.

There's Prigioni going Ricky Rubio, whipping a no-way, open-court bounce pass that hits a streaking Corey Brewer in stride and delivers another easy fast-break basket to Houston.

It's only a moment. Prigioni is no Rubio. Heck, he's not even a George Hill.

But it's a moment within a very good fourth quarter for Prigioni, one that's no small part of a 121-114 brushback of the Pelicans that temporarily relieves the Spurs-induced playoff anxiety that rightfully hounds the Rockets. Houston coach Kevin McHale entrusts Prigioni with managing the offense in the fourth quarter and Old Man Point Guard responds with smart plays, that great bounce pass and perfect 6-for-6 free throw shooting down the stretch.

 "What are you excited about? You're fighting to get swept by Golden State!" 

Amazingly, that's more points than both teams' superstars — Anthony Davis (four) and James Harden (zero) — put up in the fourth quarter combined.

For once, Harden does not need to carry a win home. Not with Dwight Howard flashing back to the block party ways of his youth. Not with New Orleans employing the Smack-A-Smith strategy that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich foisted upon the NBA — and following it with the more traditional Hack-A-Howard (Houston scores its last 12 points from the free-throw line).

The Brow getting taken out of the game? That's on the common-sense-challenged supporting cast of the Pelicans — not to mention one rather clueless Monty Williams. Not getting Davis the ball in the fourth after he gets it going in the third quarter is just the latest diss of the most dominant big man in the NBA.

Anthony Davis changes games with the ease most people change shirts. Only his chucking teammates consistently keep him in check.

Sixteen shots is not close too enough for Davis. Especially on a night when Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson combine for 40 of them. Including two of the worst, unnecessarily forced threes you'll ever see from Anderson.

The Pelicans are still in position to beat back mortally wounded Oklahoma City for the last playoff spot in the West, but this game illustrates why they won't be able to do anything once they get there.

"What are you excited about?" a Rockets fan yells to a very vocal Pelicans backer celebrating an early double digit lead. "You're fighting to get swept by Golden State!"

No matter the reality, it's the Houston nervousness that's unmistakable from before the opening tip until well into the third quarter. The sense in the stands is one of dread. Clutch City's flirting with morphing into Panic Town.

"They had us on the ropes," McHale says later in his postgame press conference.

Then, the Pelicans completely lose their grip. Harden gets the Eurostep — and every other type of step into the lane — going again in the third. Brewer keeps flying down the court. And Old Man Point Guard keeps it steady.

The Rockets are still severely point guard challenged. Daryl Morey's devastatingly dumb trade of Jeremy Lin continues to haunt more than an exposed Patrick Beverley's injury. 

The 54-26 Rockets are still not guaranteed anything more than the sixth seed with this win. But at least they have something to fight for in the playoffs.

 Anthony Davis changes games with the ease most people change shirts. Only his chucking teammates consistently keep him in check. 

This franchise desperately needs to get out of the first round for this season to be any type of a building block. To have any chance to do that, Harden and Co. need to go into the playoffs feeling at least a little good about themselves.

On a rainy Sunday night in Houston, Prigioni helps push aside some of the worry. He's one of five double-digit scorers for the Rockets (one of the three of them coming off the bench). He finishes plus 11, the third-highest plus-minus rating of anyone on the floor this night.

He has that Pass. It's arguably the second single play of the game for the Rockets — behind Howard's stone-cold block of a Gordon layup that turns into a Houston layup the other way and a 100-91 lead with eight minutes left.

This is a guy who Knicks president Phil Jackson eagerly dumped for second round draft picks (and Phil Jackson is no Sam Hinkie lover of second round picks).

Look at Old Man Point Guard roar. Oh, it's only for a few moments. But the Rockets will eagerly take every moment they can get these days.