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Pelicans destroy Rockets over final three quarters to win big, 130-105

Hayes, Alvarado and Valanciunas were magnificent

NBA: Houston Rockets at New Orleans Pelicans Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

They’re emphatically back in the win column.

The Pelicans coasted to a 130-105 victory over the Rockets on Sunday evening to snap a four-game losing streak, maintaining hold of the 10th seed in the West.

New Orleans won the season series (3-1) with Houston.

The second quarter was the determinative frame. The Pelicans smacked the Rockets down 39-23 to enter halftime with a 13-point lead. Jaxson Hayes, who had been a bit quiet over the last several weeks, largely supplied all of the fireworks.

The starting power forward posted four legitimate highlights in the last five minutes of the first half: pinning a Jalen Green lay-up attempt on the glass, swiping a steal that resulted in one of the most off balanced And-1s you’ll see this season and two alley-oop dunks.

Hayes went on to finish with a line of 21 points, six rebounds, two steals and two threes, but he wasn’t alone in posting a standout performance.

As the Pelicans proceeded to squash the Rockets 30-17 in the third, Jonas Valanciunas and Jose Alvarado took turns awing the crowd after really good first halves.

Valanciunas, who thoroughly dominated his matchups against Christian Wood and Alperen Sengun in the post — the Houston rookie fouled out in 14 minutes action, was simply unstoppable from start to finish.

Valanciunas finished the night with 32 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. In collecting his 41st double-double, JV made 12-18 field goals and all seven of his free throw attempts.

Meanwhile, Alvarado seemingly stole everything that the Rockets dribbled or threw within his grasp. He tallied three steals in the third frame which gave him five for the night, a new career high. Jose went on to finish with six thefts to go along with 16 points, 10 assists and two threes.

“I was down on myself last game, and I have this good group of guys who believe in me,” Alvarado said. “The coaching staff and the players have just stood by my side this whole time. I’m pretty hard on myself, but they believe in me as much as I believe in myself sometimes. To come out of this and get my first double-double is pretty cool. I’m just happy I’m here.”

Houston’s effort waned lower and lower while the amount of miscues grew and grew throughout the contest. Leading 98-72 after three, the final outcome was never in doubt for New Orleans. The players took turns celebrating each other’s accomplishments and I even observed Zion Williamson having some fun on the sidelines.

Naji Marshall was the third Pelican to finish with a double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds), Devonte’ Graham had 10-point, 7-assist game, and Willy Hernangomez dropped a line of 12 points, six rebounds and four assists in 17 minutes of action.

Tyrone Wallace saw his first minutes in a New Orleans uniform and finished with eight points and four rebounds. He apparently replaced Tony Snell in the rotation, as the forward never entered. In postgame media, Willie Green said he wanted to have more ball handlers on the court.

Wallace played his game by looking to mostly attack off the dribble. He had several nice drives and then hit a three-pointer late.

The Rockets were led by Jalen Green’s 17 points and David Nwaba scored 15 off the bench.

Houston put up a fight in the first quarter, surprisingly dominating the paint (18-10), but it was all Pelicans thereafter. New Orleans finished with a new season-high of 17 steals, for instance.

“Just very pleased with our overall effort, and we sustained that effort for 48 minutes, pretty much,” Green said. “Like you said, everybody that checked into the game, everybody who played came in and played with purpose. Just beautiful basketball to watch when we do it together like that.”

Up next, the Pelicans close the four-game home stand on Tuesday against the Phoenix Suns.

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