NEW ORLEANS (AP) What a bummer of a beginning to the Boogie-and-Brow era in the Big Easy.
The Pelicans’ tandem of newly acquired All-Star DeMarcus Cousins and All-Star Game MVP Anthony Davis was no match for the surging Houston Rockets on Thursday night.
Reserve Lou Williams hit seven 3-pointers and scored 27 points in his Rockets debut, and Houston crushed New Orleans, 129-99.
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”Nobody expected us to win the championship on our first game. We see the potential. We see what we need to work on,” Cousins said. ”Houston’s a very good team, a very seasoned team. They have their identity and we’re trying to find ours right now. It’s going to be a process. We’ve got to go in and work our tails off. I think we’ll be fine.”
Davis had 29 points, and Cousins finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds after he was acquired from Sacramento during the break. But New Orleans turned the ball over 20 times couldn’t keep pace with the firepower of the Rockets, who hit 20 3-pointers.
Adding injury to insult: Forward Omri Casspi, whom the Pelicans also acquired in the Cousins deal, broke his right thumb after scoring 12 points and is expected to miss about a month.
”Can’t catch a break,” Casspi said, noting that the injury occurred while he went for a strip on guard Eric Gordon in the third quarter. ”Hopefully it’s going to heal faster than the projections.”
Gordon scored 19 points and Ryan Anderson added 17 in both players’ first game in New Orleans since leaving the Pelicans. James Harden had 13 points and 14 assists.
Houston led by as many as 35 points when Gordon’s free throws made it 100-65 late in the third quarter.
Williams, acquired from the Lakers, entered the game as a reserve late in the first quarter and hit two 3s before he’d been in the game for 15 seconds.
”I told him just go out there and play his game and if you have an open shot, shoot it,” Harden said. ”He led our team in scoring in his first game, so yes, he fits in well with us.”
Williams wound up playing 25 minutes and was 9-of-16 shooting.
”I didn’t obviously know it would be this quick but he played great,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. ”He makes our second unit really good and we’re going to be able to do a lot of different things with him on this team.”
Rockets: Patrick Beverley had 12 rebounds for Houston. Montrezl Harrell added 10 points for the Rockets, who shot 49.5 percent (45 of 91). … The Rockets hit at least 10 3s in a game for the 55th time in 59 games this season. … The Rockets, now 41-18, have matched their win total for all of last season.
Pelicans: Before the game, New Orleans waived F Terrence Jones and signed G/F Hollis Thompson to a 10-day contract. Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said Jones, who joined New Orleans on a one-year contract this season, was released to help him find a team where he could play more. Thompson played a little more than four minutes and scored three points. … The Pelicans are now 14-16 at home.
After New Orleans acquired Cousins, nicknamed ”Boogie,” in a deal involving five players and two draft choices, Pelicans general manager Dell Demps hoped his team’s newest big man and Davis – known for his connected eye brows – would thrive playing off one another while point guard Jrue Holiday initiated offensive sets. But Holiday had arguably his worst game this season, turning the ball over seven times and finishing with only six points and four assists.
Holiday said he was ”forcing it too much and trying to make everybody happy. … It’s something that’s just going to take time and practice.”
The crowd was charged up for both Cousins’ debut and Davis’ resumption of a sensational season following his record 52-point performance on Sunday.
Both players received rousing receptions during introductions and the crowd roared when Cousins’ jumper opened scoring.
But it was also apparent that the integration of new personnel had New Orleans a bit out of sync. The Pelicans turned the ball over 12 times in the first half, leading to 17 Rockets points.
”Guys were trying to make the right plays, but it’s obvious we’re not used to one another,” Cousins said. ”We kind of catered to one another instead of just playing our own game.”