A promising game from Tyreke Evans was cut short after only ten minutes of playing time, when Evans drove to the lane, made a floater, and landed awkwardly on his left ankle. The video is on YouTube, naturally, if you want to see it. X-rays were negative and an MRI is scheduled for this today, but the preliminary diagnosis is ankle sprain, which shouldn't keep Evans out too long. Nonetheless, I doubt we'll see him for much of the preseason after this.
After the injury, the frustration was evident on Monty's face, and I can see why. It seems like the New Orleans backcourt has been cursed throughout the past few years with injuries, and having Evans and Gordon unable to play makes the practices in training camp much less useful. Monty is is tasked with getting a bunch of players who haven't played together to gel, and it will be that much harder with Tyreke on the sideline with his ankle elevated.
Now, to the rest of the game:
Defense: Yikes, that was a tough performance for the Pelicans. New Orleans committed tons of fouls(32) and the Harden-Howard combination was able to abuse the Pelican defense at will. Parsons, Lin, Harden, and Howard combined to make 62 points on just 33 shots - they easily dominated the Pelicans starters.
Jrue Holiday: Jrue had a rough first game, committing 8 turnovers and fouling out in just 27 minutes of action. He seemed unable for a stretch to get the ball past Patrick Beverley at the top of the key - Beverley picked Jrue's pocket at least 4 times. He settled for a good number of mid-range jumpers and was only able to generate 13 points on 10 shots and rack up 3 assists. Really a game to forget for Holiday.
Austin Rivers: When Holiday fouled out, Rivers became the primary ball-handler, and he performed that duty admirably. He, like always, was able to get into the lane at will, but now he has things he can do in the lane. Check out this great alley-oop pass to Davis off a pick and roll, for instance. He was able to make some runner and layups, find open men rolling to the basket, and kicked out to open shooters. He missed a three badly and was unable to make a fast break dunk attempt, but he held the team together down the stretch as they came back for the win (albeit against the Rockets' reserves). Perhaps most impressively, Rivers had more free throw attempts than any other player (13). Of course, it's Austin Rivers - he only made 7 of them.
Greg Stiemsma: No surprise, Stiemsma was totally overpowered by Howard in his 10 minutes of playing time and had no meaningful offensive contributions. When he plays centers that aren't All-Universe, perhaps he'll have an easier time.
Anthony Davis: Davis showed off his offseason improvement yesterday. He started off shooting midrange jumpers offensively - they weren't falling, so he started driving to the rim from the midrange, instead. He added those two newfound skills to his usual barrage of dunks and putbacks and had himself a very nice offensive game, going 9-16 for 21 points. Defensively, he had a great block on Dwight Howard that is in the full NBA highlights package - coming over as the second defender, he blocked Howard's shot straight into the glass and controlled it himself.
Anthony Morrow: What a game for Morrow! His jumper was on last night, and in Ryan Anderson's absence was able to be the lone three-point threat for the Pelicans. And when I say the only threat, I mean it: Morrow was the only Pelican to hit from beyond the arc and accounted for 6 of the team's 10 three-point attempts. Morrow's offensive game was mostly limited to spot-up jumpers, but he drove a few times to the basket with good effect. He was the most efficient offensive player for the Pelicans, making 26 points on 15 attempts. He looks like a fantastic bench pickup for Demps.
Brian Roberts: DNP. Sadness.
Jason Smith: On his first appearance after surgery to repair a torn labrum, Smith seemed like he was still looking to get into his groove on his jumper. He made 4 of 8 for 12 points and tore down 5 rebounds in 20 minutes.
Al-Farouq Aminu: Offensively challenged as always, Aminu really excited me when he knocked down an early jumper, but he then proceeded to totally disappear on the offensive side once again. More disconcerting, he failed to assert himself on the defensive glass (2 boards), but that might have been due to the high field goal percentage the Rockets were shooting.