Pelicans end losing streak with romp over Rockets
The losing streak is over at four games.
The New Orleans Pelicans withstood a hot start by Houston and got hot themselves in the second quarter and maintained that level of play in a convincing 130-105 victory at Smoothie King Center Sunday night.
It marked the fourth win by 25 or more points for New Orleans since coming off the All-Star break.
It was a pleasant sight to see and a welcome relief after what we had witnessed earlier.
Houston took a 32-29 lead after one quarter before the Pelicans dominated the second and third quarters by a 69-40 margin to pull away.
Willie Green and his staff wisely devised a plan to feed Jonas Valanciunas on a regular basis, exposing his massive size advantage against Christian Wood.
Valanciunas is massive, a prototypical center in the history of the game while Wood is a modern day post player or even a stretch forward and was no match physically for Valanciunas, who erupted for 32 points, 10 rebounds and three assists in a dominant performance, playing just 27 minutes. New Orleans outscored Houston 64-52 in the paint.
Of course, Valanciunas got help with six players in double figures.
Jaxson Hayes had 21 points and six rebounds, including a showtime, between-the-legs windmill dunk in the fourth quarter which electrified the crowd and his teammates.
Naji Marshall had 17 points and 10 rebounds, Jose Alvarado had 16 points, 10 rebounds and six steals, Willy Hernangomez had 12 points and 10 rebounds and Devonte Graham had 10 points and seven rebounds.
Alvarado became the first rookie to score 15 or more points with 10 or more assists and five or more steals since Ben Simmons turned the trick in 2017.
The Pelicans shot 51 percent from the field and outrebounded the Rockets 45-39. Houston actually shot 50 percent from the field.
New Orleans came up with 17 steals and scored 30 points off 25 Houston turnovers.
Now 28-40, the Pelicans continue to hold the tenth and final postseason spot in the Western Conference with 14 games remaining.
The bench was very productive for the Pelicans, producing 43 points.
The homestand concludes Tuesday night, at home against Western Conference leader Phoenix. The Pelicans won at Phoenix 117-102 on Feb. 25, in the first game after the All-Star break. The Suns remain without Chris Paul but they will come into New Orleans looking for revenge as the Pels continue without key players.
Meanwhile, the watch continues as to when Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum and, yes, Zion Williamson will return to the floor.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…