NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Solomon Hill scored a career-high 30 points and the New Orleans Pelicans overcame the absence of All-Star DeMarcus Cousins in a 128-112 upset over the Houston Rockets on Friday night.
Anthony Davis had 24 points and 15 rebounds for New Orleans, which has won three of four. Jrue Holiday added 19 points despite early foul trouble.
James Harden had 41 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists, but that was not enough to prevent Houston’s first loss in four games. Lou Williams added 14 points and Montrezl Harrell 13.
Cousins was sidelined by left knee and rib soreness. New Orleans is now 2-0 without Cousins and 3-7 when he’s played since trading for him Feb. 19.
Pelicans rookie guard Wayne Selden scored 11 points in his third career NBA game.
Although Cousins has been productive both scoring and rebounding since his trade to New Orleans, the Pelicans’ offensive sets appeared more fluid and balanced without him.
New Orleans shot better than 53.3 percent (49 of 92) and led by 23 points early in the fourth quarter.
The Rockets briefly pulled within 11 when Harden’s 11th assist set up Patrick Beverly’s transition layup with 5:27 remaining. But after a Pelicans timeout, Hill hit a 3 to set his personal single-game high. Then E’Twaun Moore set up Davis’ fast-break dunk to quickly push New Orleans’ lead back to 16, and the Rockets never got within single digits down the stretch.
Hill had 14 of his points in the opening period, hitting four of his first five 3-point attempts. He finished 8-of-13 shooting, hitting six of nine shots from 3-point range. Point guard Tim Frazier saw extended early minutes because of Holiday committing two early fouls and responded with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the opening 24 minutes, helping New Orleans build a lead as large as 21 points in the first half.
Houston, meanwhile, shot relatively poorly early, hitting only 36.6 percent of its shots in the first half and finishing at 41.6 percent (37 of 89) for the game, including 13 of 40 from deep.
Rockets: Eric Gordon had 12 points, but only six through three quarters. … Ryan Anderson missed six of nine shots and finished with eight points. … Houston had won each of the previous two meetings by 22 or more points. … Beverly and Anderson both were assessed technical fouls. Beverly disputed a foul called on him when he appeared to block Frazier’s driving shot. Anderson appeared frustrated when he went to the floor trying to guard Davis’ made layup. From his back, Anderson flipped the dead ball vigorously to official Ken Mauer, drawing his technical.
Pelicans: Coach Alvin Gentry said Cousins was day-to-day and would be re-evaluated on Saturday. Gentry added that while neither of Cousins injuries appears serious, it made sense to hold him out while he was dealing with two injuries at once. … The Pelicans went with their 24th different starting lineup this season, with Selden starting. Still, they have been much better off, injury-wise, than a season ago, when they used 42 starting lineups. … Rookie forward Cheick Diallo was recalled from the Greensboro Swarm of the NBA Development League but did not play.