New Orleans Pelicans 116 Houston Rockets 115
The Rockets picked up right where they left off from last season on the offensive end, scoring 33 points on 67 percent shooting from the field in the 1st quarter. The starting unit of Jeremy Lin, James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Donatas Motiejunas, and Dwight Howard looked very impressive all night on both ends of the floor. All eyes were on how Howard would look, and he was reminiscent of the player he was during his Orlando Magic days. Howard finished with 19 points and 9 rebounds on 6 for 11 shooting in 27 minutes. He also displayed his new free throw shooting touch, making 7 of the 11 attempts from the charity stripe.
Harden lead the way with 21 points on 6 of 11 shooting from the field in 28 minutes, while Lin looked as comfortable as he had ever been in a Rockets uniform, finishing with 11 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals in 19 minutes. Parsons shot an efficient 80 percent(4-5) from the field, scoring 11 points and grabbing 6 rebounds.
Patrick Beverley, Terrence Jones, and Omri Casspi all contributed off the bench. Casspi put on a show, making his first 9 shots from the field, and finishing with 20 points in 21 minutes. Beverley made his presence felt in the 4th quarter, stealing the ball from Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday on four consecutive possessions, while drawing a 6th foul from him with over 8 minutes left in the game. Beverley also shot an extremely efficient 80 percent(4-5) from the field, and finished with 12 points, 5 assists, and 4 steals in 21 minutes. Jones looked settled in at the power forward position, playing 23 minutes and scoring 13 points on 5 of 7 shooting, while grabbing 5 rebounds.
Just as the holes were from a year ago, the Rockets struggled with turnovers once again. Houston allowed 29 points to New Orleans off of 22 turnovers, and the interior defense was non-existent when Howard was not in the game, as the Rockets gave up 56 points in the paint.
With centers Omer Asik, Marcus Camby, and Greg Smith sitting out, the Rockets had major holes on the defensive end when Motiejunas, Jones, or Casspi played center.
Motiejunas had a fairly disappointing outing on both ends, scoring just 4 points, all from the free throw line in 25 minutes, while struggling on defense guarding the pick-and-roll. Anthony Davis had a big night, finishing with 21 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 27 minutes, and Austin Rivers had success running the pick-and-roll, scoring 21 points in 31 minutes. Rivers put the game out of reach with less than 30 seconds left when he converted on an and-1 with Motiejunas defending him.
The final score is no indication as to how the Rockets looked. The starting unit and established rotation played great when they were on the floor, with all 5 starters finishing with at least a +8 each.
The Rockets now plan to board a flight for Manila, Philippines early Sunday morning, and are scheduled to play the Indiana Pacers on Thursday morning at 6:30 AM CST.