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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Ben DuBose

Pelicans, Jonas Valanciunas bully Rockets; Jalen Green stays efficient

Rookie guard Jalen Green continued his run of strong play with 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting (46.2% FG) and 2-of-5 on 3-pointers (40.0%), but it wasn’t nearly enough to rescue the young Houston Rockets during a 130-105 demolition (box score) on Sunday night in New Orleans.

The Pelicans (28-40) had far more incentive to win than the last-place Rockets (17-51), since New Orleans has a very small lead on the No. 10 seed in the Western Conference — good for the final spot in the West’s play-in tournament for the 2022 playoffs. Needless to say, that extra incentive was quite evident when comparing the respective efforts.

Led by bruising center Jonas Valanciunas (32 points, 10 rebounds), the Pelicans bullied through a lethargic Houston defense lacking interior rim protection due to the slender Christian Wood (returning from an extended illness absence) and rookie backup Alperen Sengun.

Fellow frontcourt starter Jaxson Hayes added 21 points for the Pelicans, with both big men only required to play 27 minutes apiece. They combined to make 18-of-26 shots from the field (69.2%).

Wood grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds for Houston, but he shot just 3-of-9 from the field (33.3%) and scored only 8 points. Jae’Sean Tate, who also missed games of late with a sore left ankle, made his own return from injury and scored 14 points in 20 minutes on 6-of-10 shooting (60.0%).

Rookie guard Josh Christopher (13 points, 55.6% FG) and veteran wing David Nwaba (15 points, 83.3% FG) took advantage of extended playing time in an uncompetitive game where not a single Houston player made it 30 minutes. Eric Gordon was a late scratch with right knee tendinitis, with Garrison Mathews as his starting lineup replacement.

Scroll on for highlights and postgame reaction.

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