Pelicans hammer Rockets for 4th straight win


CJ McCollum scored 28 points, Jonas Valanciunas had a double-double and the host New Orleans Pelicans routed the Houston Rockets 127-105 on Thursday night.

Valanciunas had 20 points and 14 rebounds, while Zion Williamson added 27 points and nine assists as the Pelicans won their fourth straight game and their eighth in the past nine despite the absence of second-leading scorer Brandon Ingram (non-COVID illness).

Herbert Jones scored 17 points, Trey Murphy III had 13 and Jose Alvarado put up 11 off the bench for New Orleans.

Amen Thompson scored 22 points in a reserve role, Alperen Sengun had 20 points, Cam Whitmore added 13 and Jalen Green had 10 for the Rockets, who lost for the sixth time in seven games.

The Rockets trailed by 13 points at halftime and the closest they could get in the second half was 12 on two occasions early in the third quarter.

Williamson converted a three-point play and Valanciunas made a 3-pointer during a 9-0 run that gave the Pelicans a 74-53 lead. The lead reached as many as 28 points before New Orleans held a 101-79 lead at the end of the third quarter.

Houston got within 15 with 4:19 left in the fourth quarter but got no closer as the Pelicans earned a 2-2 split of the season series.

The first quarter featured 10 lead changes and two ties, the last of which came at 20. McCollum scored six straight points as New Orleans took its biggest lead of the period, 26-22. The Pelicans matched that margin when Naji Marshall’s 3-pointer beat the buzzer and gave New Orleans a 31-27 edge at the end of the period.

Alvarado started the second-quarter scoring with a 3-pointer before the Rockets took a pair of one-point leads. Alvarado’s layup put New Orleans back on top and the Pelicans opened a five-point lead before Houston got within one point.

Valanciunas made four field goals to help New Orleans gain a 55-45 lead. The Rockets trimmed the lead to five before Murphy and McCollum each made a 3-pointer during a closing 8-0 run that gave the Pelicans a 63-50 halftime lead.