NEW ORLEANS (AP) — DeMarcus Cousins raced down the lane after his missed free throw, trying to make a hustle play and help the New Orleans Pelicans preserve a signature victory over one of the NBA’s elite teams.
Moments later, Cousins was sitting on the court, pain in his foot and an expression of shock on his face. He tried to get up as his teammates pursued the Houston Rockets toward the other end of the court, then went back down on his back and placed both hands on his head.
Anthony Davis scored 27 points, Cousins had 15 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists before seriously injuring his left Achilles tendon, and New Orleans survived a furious Houston rally for a 115-113 victory on Friday night.
A person familiar with the situation said Pelicans team physicians have provided a preliminary diagnosis of an Achilles tear, which would end Cousins’ season a little more than a week after he was named an All-Star starter.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because, officially, the team said an MRI will determine the severity of the injury.
The injury, which occurred with 12 seconds left in the game, all but squelched the jubilation from the Pelicans and their fans, who otherwise would have been celebrating not just a victory over the team with the NBA’s second-best record, but a fourth straight victory overall and seventh in eight games.
“We were just figuring everything out. That’s the tough part,” Davis said. “We’ve got to keep going and just keep finding a way to win.
“We’ve got enough guys in here who are professionals who are always ready when their number’s called, so we’ve got to make sure that we stay locked in.”
Jrue Holiday scored 21 points and unconventionally sealed the victory by purposely missing a free throw with 1.8 seconds left, causing time to run out as players grappled for the rebound.
“Right now, just praying everything’s OK,” Holiday said, adding that Cousins’ injury made the victory “bittersweet.”
“Just unfortunate, really. I think we’ve been doing really well, got in a great groove,” Holiday added, noting that Cousins’ triple-double against Houston was his second in three games. “The way we’ve been playing, and him in particular, has been awesome.”
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.