Well, how’s that for a debut? Brand new Rockets guard Lou Williams scored a team-high 27 points on a career-best tying 7 three pointers (on 11 shots), and the rested Rockets offense fired on all cylinders in a 129-99 blowout of the New Orleans Pelicans.
Williams, who was only supposed to play sparingly, ended playing 25 minutes, and he was fantastic scoring the basketball both from behind the three line and off of drives to the bucket. In fact, he started off his Rockets career with back-to-back cashes from three immediately upon entering the game.
Back-to-back 3s for @TeamLou23! We can get used to this... pic.twitter.com/NkEK133kIc— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) February 24, 2017
In addition to Williams’ electric start in Rockets red, the team knocked down a total of 20 triples, shot 49.5 percent from the field and actually outrebounded the Pelicans 48-45; no small feat now that New Orleans features Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
Speaking of which, those guys were great, and both are obviously just oozing with ridiculous talent, but it’s going to take a bit for things to mesh for the Pels. Davis had 29 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks and Cousins finished with 27 points, 14 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 blocks, yet this game was practically over by halftime.
Those guys will be fine, but New Orleans still needs more around them, and getting Davis and Cousins to complement each other rather than just being their own individual forces of nature will be the key to their success. That might not happen immediately.
But as for the Rockets, this was as complete a performance coming off the bye as we could have hoped for. Williams’ 7 threes tonight were almost one-third of the total (22) Corey Brewer had hit all season up until his trade. The corner three, already a staple of the Houston attack, just got even more effective with Williams taking them.
The three-guard lineup with Williams, Eric Gordon and Patrick Beverley looks potentially devastating moving forward. They certainly were tonight, with Gordon finishing with 19 points and Beverley racking up 12 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals in addition to Williams’ big night.
There were also big nights across the board for most of the other Houston players, with James Harden finishing with 13 points and 14 assists. The Beard sat the entire fourth quarter and could be seen in a joyous mood over his new teammate’s big night and the Rockets’ big win.
Ryan Anderson finished with 17 points, Clint Capela had 15 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks, while Trevor Ariza had 9 points, 7 boards and 3 big triples. Nene finished with 9 points and 3 boards, but it was the edge he brought inside early against Cousins and Davis that set the attitude tone for the Rockets. He wasn’t afraid to mix it up from the beginning, and that type of hard-nosed play let both his Houston teammates and his opponents know what kind of night it was going to be.
Sam Dekker also put up 8 points and 4 rebounds, and had a few eye-poppingly athletic plays to finish off the some robust bench production for the Rockets. They got a total of 79 points from their bench tonight, and while that won’t happen night-in and night-out, the Rockets do now have the top two Sixth Man of the Year candidates playing in the same back court. I think it’s fair to say the Rockets now have a pretty strong second unit.
Houston moves to 41-18 with the win and now have as many victories this year as they did in all of last season. They are back in action Saturday night at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Pelicans fall to 23-35 and 0-1 in the Boogie/Davis experiment.