Pelicans lose as DeMarcus Cousins shines, Omri Casspi breaks thumb

NEW ORLEANS -- The DeMarcus Cousins era got off to a rough start, as the New Orleans Pelicans were blown out by the Houston Rockets 129-99 in their first game since trading for the All-Star center. But they received even worse news afterward.

Omri Casspi, the other player traded to New Orleans from the Sacramento Kings along with Cousins, suffered a broken right thumb and is expected to miss four to six weeks.

"It sucks," Casspi said. "Shoot, we can't catch a break. But it is what it is. Hopefully it's going to heal faster than the projections and I'm back playing."

Casspi said he bumped into Rockets guard Eric Gordon while attempting to strip the ball from the former Pelicans guard at the end of the third quarter.

"I looked at my thumb and it just swelled up real fast," he said. "I kept playing, and we just figured, 'Let's do an X-ray, just to make sure there's nothing there.' Shoot, it is what it is."

The Pelicans, now 23-35 overall and 2.5 games back of the eighth-place Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference, will play 12 of their remaining 24 games in the next four weeks.

"It's unfortunate, man," Cousins said. "My guy can't catch a break. He really can't."

While the final 30-point deficit was greater than any loss with the Kings this season, Cousins himself had perhaps the best night of any Pelicans player. The 26-year-old finished with 27 points (11-for-19), 14 rebounds, 5 steals, 5 assists and 4 blocks, and he seemed to find a sense of relief after days of hype and expectations.

"It was good to get it under my belt, good to get it out of my way," Cousins said. "It's good to just get back to basketball, finally. I know there was a lot of anticipation coming up to this for the city, for the fans and for myself as well."

Anthony Davis, the ice to his fire, finished with 29 points (8-for-21), 9 rebounds and 2 blocks.

But the Pelicans as a whole struggled to keep up with a Rockets team that scored 29 points or more in each quarter. The Rockets, who set a record for 3-pointers made (24) and attempted (61) in a single game the last time they faced the Pelicans, made 20 of their 51 attempts.

New Orleans, meanwhile, looked very much like a work in progress, allowing 25 points on 20 turnovers and 34 fast-break points.

"No matter who we have on the floor, whether we have a team full of new guys or the same guys we had before the break, we just can't turn the ball over," Davis said. "We turned the ball over a lot, and that just comes from overthinking."

Jrue Holiday, the third of the Pelicans' new big three, finished with more turnovers (7) than points (6) and also had just one steal.

"It's tough when you have two guys who can score the ball alongside you and you want to give them the ball," Davis said. "That comes with not playing with each other. We have to change our offense over, kind of start over a little bit. But he'll be fine. I'm not worried about Jrue."

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said at Cousins' introductory news conference Wednesday that his team would try to make his reshuffled roster "work quickly." But he and other Pelicans principals echoed a need for patience as they sort out their new team on the fly.

"AD and myself and Jrue, we can do so many things with the ball," Cousins said. "I think we're going to have plenty of strategies. It's just going to take time.

"It flowed well in the beginning, and Coach even said it before the game: There's going to be times where we're going to look great offensively and [times when] it's going to look like complete s---, which it did. It's just going to be a matter of time. It's not going to happen overnight. We have a lot of work to do."

Asked what he learned from his first game with his new team, Cousins said, "We're not ready."

"Nobody expected us to win a championship -- well, I didn't -- in our first game," Cousins said. "We see the potential; we see where we need to work on."

Said Davis: "We'll be fine."

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Cousins has strong debut, but Pelicans fall to Rockets
Cousins has strong debut, but Pelicans fall to Rockets
In his first game since being traded to New Orleans, DeMarcus Cousins records 27 points and 14 rebounds but the Pelicans lose to the Rockets 129-99.
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