Rockets 129, Pelicans 99 - Welcome to Houston, Lou Williams!

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The biggest story of the NBA Trade Deadline (and probably the biggest in the entire NBA since Kevin Durant decided to take his talents to the California Bay) is the recent trade of DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans. In the first game following the All-Star Break, Rockets fans were treated to a game with a lot of intrigue. Not only were the Rockets witness to Cousins’ debut with New Orleans, but the newly acquired Lou Williams made his Rockets debut, and Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon returned to New Orleans for the first time wearing Rockets uniforms – well, aside from Gordon’s victory in the Three-Point contest last Saturday.

The Smoothie King Center was buzzing in anticipation of ‘Boogie’ Cousins’ Pelicans debut, and he responded by hitting the first basket of the game. Neither team could get much going early in the quarter, as there was clear ‘ring rust’ after the All-Star Break. Both teams had six turnovers in the quarter and the game grew pretty sloppy. However, a pair of 8-2 runs and a 10-0 run from the Rockets gave the Rockets a 25-16 lead. Amidst the last run, Lou Williams checked into the game for the first time as a Rocket and immediately drained two corner threes. Former Houston Rocket Omri Casspi scored five straight for New Orleans, which kicked off a 12-5 run that would close the quarter out and cut Houston’s lead to just two (30-28).

After Cousins opened the second quarter with a bucket, the Rockets went on a 7-0 run that saw Sam Dekker, who figures to get more playing time with Corey Brewer’s departure, hit a three-pointer and a weirdly Brewer-esque twisting transition layup.



The second period also saw Donatas Motiejunas check into the game. Fans will remember that D-Mo had a strange and rocky relationship with the Rockets earlier this season. Adding his skillset and professional attitude to the tandem of Cousins and Anthony Davis can be very beneficial in terms of depth for this Pelicans’ frontcourt.

Mike D’Antoni rolled out a lineup in the second period that figures to be a staple for the Rockets going forward – a lineup that featured Gordon, Williams, and Beverley running the offense. This lineup paid immediate dividends as Gordon and Williams ended three straight possessions with wide-open threes. New Orleans’ length defensively became an issue for the Rockets, which kept the game close, but Houston quickly bounced back once James Harden checked back into the game. Montrezl Harrell put in six quick points on tough baskets in the paint (any basket in the paint is tough Cousins and Davis are in position), and the Rockets bench actually outscored the starters with an impressive 40 points as a whole. The Rockets ended the period on a 20-6 run, going into halftime with a 66-50 lead.

Things got extremely physical early in the third quarter, specifically between Cousins and Nene. After a double foul was called for both guys trying to establish position without actually boxing out, Nene came alive with two straight baskets at the rim – including a nice jam coming off a pick-and-roll with Harden. Houston held New Orleans to just eight points in the first nine minutes of the period, building up an insurmountable 32-point lead. The Pelicans made a tiny run to cut the lead to less than 30, but Lou Williams made sure to provide a spark by hitting another wide-open corner three and assisting on a Clint Capela alley-oop. Houston outscored the Pelicans 34-17 and got to 100 points by the end of the period. The game was all but over.

This contest wasn’t really about either team’s superstars, but about debuting and returning players (albeit, DeMarcus Cousins is a superstar). ‘Boogie’ made his Pelicans’ debut to much fanfare and put up really good numbers in an overall really bad game (27 points on 60% shooting, 14 rebounds, five steals, and four blocks). On the flip side, Lou Williams was stellar in his Rockets debut, scoring 27 points on 56% shooting – including hitting seven of his eleven attempts from three. Former Pelicans Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson heard smatterings of boos all night, but weren’t fazed as they scored 19 and 17 points, respectively. Even Omri Casspi scored 12 points!

Houston has now won 41 games this season, which is the same win total as all of last season. The Rockets look to continue winning with this new-look squad when they take on the Minnesota Timberwolves in Houston on Saturday.

Game Ball

This is a segment of the game recaps that will give the proverbial game ball to a player that proved to be most valuable to the Rockets on a given night. This award won’t necessarily go to the player that puts up the best numbers, but to the player that made the greatest impact on the team – tangible or intangible.

Thursday’s game ball goes to Lou Williams.

NOW THAT’S HOW YOU MAKE AN ENTRANCE!



Despite the trade being finalized and officially announced just six hours or so before tip-off, and without a single practice or shootaround under his belt, Lou Williams shined like an absolute diamond in his Rockets debut. Hitting seven threes and creating offense for himself as well as his teammates is exactly why the Rockets gave up Corey Brewer and a first-round pick to get him. After Thursday there’s no question about his fit within D’Antoni’s offense, specifically with how he can help Eric Gordon run the second unit.

Now, the real question mark revolves around who gets to take home the ‘Sixth Man of the Year’ trophy – Gordon or Williams. Is there a “Seventh Man of the Year” award? Can they share the trophy? Either way, Daryl Morey does it again.

Welcome to Houston, Lou!

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