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Pelicans twin towers bully Rockets in New Orleans

The frontcourt duo of Jonas Valanciunas and Jaxson Hayes proved too much for the micro Rockets.

NBA: Houston Rockets at New Orleans Pelicans
Kevin Porter Jr drives against Naji Marshall at the Smoothie King Center
Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets have grown accustomed to falling short throughout the season. In Sunday night’s contest with the Pelicans, they fell once again in a 130-105 rout.

This Rockets team often struggles to contain one center. So it was no surprise when the Pelicans’ twin tower formation led their team to a blowout in the Smoothie King Arena.

Jonas Valanciunas went for 32 points and 10 rebounds, while Jaxson Hayes contributed 21 points and six rebounds. The two big men went a combined 18 for 26 from the field.

The moment that best encapsulated the game came when Valanciunas hit a flat-footed bank shot over Wood midway through the second quarter.

He didn’t even have to jump.

All told, the Pelicans outscored the Rockets 64-52 in the paint. Turnovers didn’t help the Rockets’ cause either. They committed 24 miscues to the Pelicans’ 10. Undrafted point guard Jose Alvarado made a significant contribution for the Pels in that regard. He had six steals to go with 16 points and 10 assists in an impressive outing.

It wasn’t all gloom and doom for the Rockets. Daishen Nix added eight points and five assists in just 22 minutes, and the numbers sell his performance short. He consistently made solid reads in halfcourt sets, finding corner shooters with tight pocket passes.

Meanwhile, Jalen Green was solid, finishing with 17 points on 6 for 13 shooting from the field in 27 minutes. He sat out the fourth quarter with the game’s outcome already decided.

The Rockets got off to a good start, leading by as much as five midway through the second quarter. In the end, the Pelicans’ sheer brawn overwhelmed one of the NBA’s smallest frontcourt.

Life doesn’t get any easier for the Rockets moving forward. They’ll host Deandre Ayton and the Phoenix Suns at the Toyota Center at 7 p.m. CT on Wednesday.