Pelicans Crush Rockets In Dazzling Season Opener
The New Orleans Pelicans opened the 2018-2019 season against the favored Houston Rockets and dominated them for a 131-112 victory.
Superstar Anthony Davis was expectedly spectacular, stuffing the stat sheet with 32 points, 16 rebounds, a career-high 8 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks in 39 minutes of play.
"We moved the basketball and we made shots, but we put our hats on and defended," Davis said after the win. "To come out with a win against a team like that after the season they had and coming off the season we had, we wanted to come out and set a tempo for ourselves."
Louisiana Ragin' Cajun alum and Pelicans starting point guard Elfrid Payton made his Pelicans debut and impressed all, notching a triple-double (10 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists), the 11th of his career.
Payton embraced the pace.
"I thought we played exactly how we needed to in terms of playing with pace," said head coach Alvin Gentry. "We're not surprised."
As a team, the Pelicans shot 53.1% from the field, were 10 of 25 from beyond the arc and finished with 36 assists. The ball movement and pace on offense never faltered.
Forward Nikola Mirotic scored 30 points and 10 rebounds in 30 minutes, nailing 6 pointers.
Big man Julius Randle made his New Orleans debut off the bench, scoring 25 points in 24 minutes.
"The strength of our team is our big guys," explained Gentry. "We did a really good job of getting the ball inside and our big guys were patient, waiting for the double-teams to come and making the right decisions."
The Pelicans owned the Rockets in the paint, outscoring them there 76-44.
Starter E'Twuan Moore added 21 points, as New Orleans outscored Houston by 30 points when he was on the floor.
Next up, the Pelicans host the Sacramento Kings Friday night in their home opener. Tip-off is set for 7:00.