NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis scored 27 points, DeMarcus Cousins had 15 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists before injuring his left Achilles, and the New Orleans Pelicans survived a furious Houston rally for a 115-113 victory over the Rockets on Friday night.
A fourth straight victory and seventh victory in eight games coming against one of the NBA’s top teams should have been reason to celebrate, but there was a lot of concern about Cousins, who could not put any weight on his left foot as he was helped to the locker room with less than 15 seconds left. Team officials said an MRI will determine the severity of the injury.
Jrue Holiday scored 21 points and unconventionally sealed the victory by purposefully missing a free throw with 1.8 seconds left, causing time to run out as players fought for the rebound.
Darius Miller hit six 3-pointers, including one with 1:52 left to give the Pelicans a five-point lead, and finished with 20 points.
Chris Paul scored a season-high 38 points before fouling out in the final seconds and nearly led Houston back from a 21-point, third-quarter deficit. James Harden had 23 points and 11 assists, and Eric Gordon scored 27 points.
Houston tied it at 104 on Luc Mbah a Moute’s layup with 2:34 to go. And the game was tied once more at 109 on Trevor Ariza’s 3 with 1:17 to go before Holiday’s driving floater and Cousins’ putback gave New Orleans the lead for good.
The comeback bid began after Miller’s 3 gave the Pelicans an 81-60 lead with 5:54 left in the quarter.
Houston turned the tide with a 20-6 run, during which Paul scored 10 on two 3s, a layup and two free throws.
Early in the fourth quarter, Paul sneaked in behind Cousins to steal an inbound pass to set up his breakaway layup as he was fouled, trimming New Orleans lead to 96-92.
However, Paul committed his fifth foul with 7:29 left, and went to the bench for more than three minutes, during which the Pelicans’ lead crept back to eight.
Paul returned with four minutes left and the Rockets scored the next eight points to tie it.
Davis dominated early, attempting an unusually high 15 shots and scoring 16 points in the first quarter. New Orleans sought to get him the ball above the rim often, and he threw down two alley-oops while rattling out two others.
The Rockets’ response came from Gordon, a former Pelican, who scored 11 points before he’d spent seven minutes on the court.
Houston led 30-29 after the first quarter, but the Pelicans pushed ahead in a lopsided second quarter in which they hit 14 of 20 shots.
Cousins scored eight of his points in the period after sitting most of the first quarter because of two early fouls, and New Orleans took its first double-digit lead when Miller’s 3 made it 51-40. Davis’ third alley-oop dunk of the game put the Pelicans up 13 and his free throws one possession later gave the Pelicans a 15-point lead.
Harden’s short jumper cut it to 66-53 at halftime.
Rockets: Harden moved into second in Rockets history in assists with 3,347, passing Allen Leavell’s 3,339. ... Harden missed eight of nine 3-point attempts, although six of his free throws came after he was fouled on 3s. ... Former Pelican Ryan Anderson, who came in averaging 10.1 points, did not score, missing all three of his shots.
Pelicans: Piled up 24 assists on 27 field goals in the first half and finished with 36 assists on 44 made shots. ... Recently acquired guard DeAndre Liggins contributed a pair of timely 3s in the second half. ... Improved to 14-9 at home.
Rockets: Host Phoenix on Sunday.
Pelicans: Host Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.