Davis, Cousins help Pelicans hold off Rockets
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis scored 27 points, Cousins had 15 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists before seriously injuring his left Achilles, and New Orleans survived a furious Houston rally for a 115-113 victory over the Rockets on Friday night.
A person familiar with the situation said Pelicans team physicians have provided a preliminary diagnosis of an Achilles tear, which would end Cousins’ season little more than a week after he was named an All-Star starter.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because, officially, the team said an MRI will determine the severity of the injury.
Yahoo! first reported the initial diagnosis.
The injury, which occurred as Cousins pursued a missed free throw with 12 second left in the game, all but squelched the jubilation from a team and its fans, who otherwise would have been celebrating a fourth straight victory and seventh in eight games.
“We were just figuring everything out. That’s the tough part,” Davis said, adding that he hadn’t spoken to Cousins and wasn’t yet certain if the injury was season-ending. “We’ve got to keep going and just keep finding a way to win.
“We’ve got enough guys in here who are professionals who are always ready when their number’s called, so we’ve got to make sure that we stay locked in.”
Jrue Holiday scored 21 points and unconventionally sealed the victory by purposefully missing a free throw with 1.8 seconds left, causing time to run out as players fought for the rebound.
“Right now, just praying everything’s OK,” with Cousins, Holiday said, adding that it made the win victory “bitter-sweet.”
“Just unfortunate, really. I think we’ve been doing really well, got in a great groove,” Holiday added, noting that Cousins’ triple-double against Houston was his second in three games. “The way we’ve been playing, and him in particular, has been awesome.”
Darius Miller hit six 3-pointers, including one with 1:52 left to give the Pelicans a five-point lead, and finished with 20 points.
Chris Paul scored a season-high 38 points before fouling out in the final seconds and nearly led Houston back from a 21-point, third-quarter deficit. James Harden had 23 points and 11 assists, and Eric Gordon scored 27 points.
Houston tied it at 104 on Luc Mbah a Moute’s layup with 2:34 to go. And the game was tied once more at 109 on Trevor Ariza’s 3 with 1:17 to go before Holiday’s driving floater and Cousins’ put-back gave New Orleans the lead for good.
The Rockets’ comeback bid began after Miller’s 3 gave the Pelicans an 81-60 lead with 5:54 left in the quarter.
Houston turned the tide with a 20-6 run, during which Paul scored 10 on two 3s, a layup and two free throws.
Early in the fourth quarter, Paul sneaked in behind Cousins to steal an inbound pass to set up his breakaway layup as he was fouled, trimming New Orleans lead to 96-92.
However, Paul committed his fifth foul with 7:29 left, and went to the bench for more than three minutes, during which the Pelicans’ lead crept back to eight.
Paul returned with four minutes left and the Rockets scored the next eight points to tie it.
Davis dominated early, scoring 16 points in the first quarter, and the Pelicans pushed ahead in a lopsided second quarter in which they hit 14 of 20 shots.
New Orleans took its first double-digit lead when Miller’s 3 made it 51-40. Davis’ third alley-oop dunk of the game put the Pelicans up 13 and his free throws one possession later gave the Pelicans a 15-point lead.
Harden’s short jumper cut it to 66-53 at halftime.
Rockets: Harden moved into second in Rockets history in assists with 3,347, passing Allen Leavell’s 3,339. ... Harden missed eight of nine 3-point attempts, although six of his free throws came after he was fouled on 3s. ... Former Pelican Ryan Anderson, who came in averaging 10.1 points, did not score, missing all three of his shots.
Pelicans: Piled up 24 assists on 27 field goals in the first half and finished with 36 assists on 44 made shots. ... Recently acquired guard DeAndre Liggins contributed a pair of timely 3s in the second half. ... Improved to 14-9 at home.
Rockets: Host Phoenix on Sunday.
Pelicans: Host Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball