LOS ANGELES—The Houston Rockets shot down new-look New Orleans 129-99 on Thursday, spoiling the Pelicans debut of DeMarcus Cousins with the help of a new arrival of their own.
Big man Cousins, acquired on Monday from the Sacramento Kings in a blockbuster trade involving five players and two draft picks, teamed well with Pelicans star Anthony Davis, the two combining for 56 points and 23 rebounds.
But the Rockets forced 20 turnovers and their own new signing, guard Lou Williams, scored a game-high 27 points in the triumph.
Williams, a 12-year veteran who came to the Rockets from the Los Angeles Lakers in a trade during the All-Star break made his 25 minutes off the bench count.
He hit his first two three-pointers and finished seven of 11 from long range.
Prior to the contest, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said he expected Williams to “get his feet wet” in his first game with his new teammates—and he was pleased with the splash the newcomer made.
“He’s a ball player, so I knew that he’d be OK,” D’Antoni said. “I didn’t obviously know he was going to get 27. He just scores very easily. He’ll have a lot of room to operate.”
Meanwhile, LeBron James recorded his sixth triple-double of the season on Thursday as the Cleveland Cavaliers maintained their mastery over the New York Knicks with a 119-104 NBA triumph.
James scored 18 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and handed out 15 assists for the 48th regular-season triple-double of his career.
Kyrie Irving led Cleveland with 23 points, while Kyle Korver added 20 off the bench to help the Cavs get off to a solid start in the wake of the All-Star break.
New York’s Courtney Lee led all scorers with 25 points. Carmelo Anthony added 20 and Derrick Rose scored 13 as both Knicks stars, the subject of persistent trade rumors, were still on board as the Thursday afternoon trade deadline passed.
The reigning champion Cavaliers won their fourth straight and are 8-1 this month. It was their 10th straight win over the Knicks, who have lost six of their last seven.
Making the defeat more painful, Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis hurt his ankle and didn’t return for the second half. He finished with eight points in 16 minutes before the injury, which was diagnosed as a sprain.
Tristan Thompson posted his fourth straight double-double for Cleveland with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
Irving saw two personal scoring streaks end. As he sat out the entire fourth quarter, he fell two points shy of scoring at least 25 points for a sixth straight game.
The Rockets, who set the NBA record for three-pointers in a game (24) in a 122-100 victory over the Pelicans in December, made 20 of 51 from beyond the arc.
Three other Rockets, who at one time played in New Orleans, had at least three three-pointers apiece. Eric Gordon made four, and Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza had three each.
Williams was one of six Houston players to score in double figures. Gordon added 19, Anderson 17, Clint Capella 13, James Harden 13 and Montrezl Harrell 10.
“That was a pretty decent introduction, I would say,” Williams said. “It was huge considering I hadn’t worked out. It’s easy to play with these guys and their very open style. Everybody eats, everybody’s happy.”
Meanwhile the Pelicans have some kinks to work out in an offense moving away from a small, quick lineup to the “Twin Towers” of Davis and Cousins.
Davis led the Pelicans with 29 points and Cousins scored 27 points and grabbed 14.
But the Pelicans struggled to find an offensive rhythm.
“It was good to get the first one under the belt and out of the way,” Cousins said. “Most of the turnovers were because guys were trying to make the right play, and it’s obvious we’re not used to one another.
“We see the potential,” Cousins said. “We see what we need to work on. It’s going to be a process.”