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Jonas Valanciunas shines as Pelicans snap 4-game skid

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Mar 13, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes (10) reacts to dunking the ball against against the Houston Rockets during the second quarter at Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 13, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes (10) reacts to dunking the ball against against the Houston Rockets during the second quarter at Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Jonas Valanciunas had 32 points and 10 rebounds as the host New Orleans Pelicans ended a four-game losing streak with a 130-105 victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday night.

Jaxson Hayes added 21 points, Naji Marshall had 17 points and 10 rebounds, Jose Alvarado had 16 points, 10 assists and six steals, Willy Hernangomez scored 12 points and Devonte’ Graham 10 for the short-handed Pelicans.

Pelicans leading scorer Brandon Ingram missed a fourth consecutive game because of a strained hamstring and second-leading scorer CJ McCollum missed his second consecutive game after entering the NBA’s health and safety protocol as New Orleans won the season series 3-1.

The Pelicans took command by outscoring Houston by a combined 69-40 in the second and third quarters.

Jalen Green scored 17, David Nwaba added 15, Jae’Sean Tate returned from a two-game absence due to a sore left ankle to score 14 and Josh Christopher scored 13 to pace the Rockets. Leading scorer Christian Wood returned from a three-game absence due to illness and had eight points — 10 below his average — but he added a game-high 12 rebounds.

Valanciunas had four points during a 13-3 run that gave New Orleans an 81-61 lead early in the third quarter. The Pelicans expanded the lead to 98-72 at the end of the third quarter.

The lead changed hands eight times and the score was tied six times before the Rockets had a strong finish to the first quarter. They finished with 18 points in the paint and shot 61.9 percent from the floor (13 of 21) to take a 32-29 lead at the end of the period.

Houston increased the lead to six before Marshall scored five points during a 9-0 run that gave New Orleans a 46-43 lead.

Tate’s layup ended a nearly three-minute scoring drought for the Rockets, but Hayes scored five points as the Pelicans increased the lead to 60-48.

Houston trimmed the deficit to seven, but Alvarado made a 3-pointer and assisted on a Hayes dunk as New Orleans took a 68-55 halftime lead.

–Field Level Media