In what was expected to be an easy win for the Houston Rockets, the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Rockets 121-116, even without 4 of their 5 starters. Anthony Davis, Julius Randle, E’Twuan Moore, and Elfrid Payton were all out due to injuries. Key bench player Nikola Mirotic was also ruled out.
The Pelicans were definitely not expected to win this contest. Frank Jackson made his first career start, and the Rockets had both Chris Paul and James Harden healthy. Even without 5 of their top-7 players, the Pelicans were able to hold off the potent offensive attack of Harden and the Rockets. Although Harden scored 37 points, a lot of those points came in the fourth quarter when the Pelicans had strong control of the game.
Jrue Holiday showed why he should be an All-Star this season, as he became the first guard in the history of the NBA to record at least 17 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, and 6 blocks. Jahlil Okafor led the Pelicans in scoring with 27 points, while also recording 12 rebounds. Okafor has been fantastic the last 5 games, recording 4 double-doubles and scoring over 15 points in each of the contests. He’s also averaging 2.6 blocks per game over this 5 game span. Many other players stepped up as well, as 6 total Pelicans scored in the double-digits.
The Pelicans played some great defense against one of the better teams in the league. It was a great win tonight, mainly to prove to the league that New Orleans is more than Anthony Davis, something fans truly needed after Davis’ trade request earlier this week. While it is still unforeseen what the future holds for New Orleans, if the Pelicans play like a team and work together like they did against the Rockets, they may be better than everyone expects.
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