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Tyreke Evans Magnificent as Pelicans End Four Game Losing Streak
The Sacramento Kings thought $11 million a year was too much to pay for Tyreke Evans. Instead, they waited a few months and traded some assets for Rudy Gay, who will make $18 million this year and $19 million next year. Thank God for terrible franchises.
Tonight Tyreke Evans was amazing, going for 25 points on 14 shots, with 12 assists, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals in the Pelicans 113-100 win. Meanwhile, Rudy Gay was 2-12 and had six turnovers in 39 minutes of play. Safe to say, Rudy Gay won’t be looking at the stat sheet tonight. If he did, he would see two other Pelicans had double-doubles as Anthony Davis went for 21 and 11, and Jrue Holiday dropped 17 and 10. Al-Farouq Aminu was terrific as well, scoring 13 points on 8 shots while also grabbing 8 boards and forcing numerous turnovers.
Eric Gordon led the charge early, scoring 11 of the Pelicans first 20 points, but he went down in the third quarter with a knee contusion and never returned. The only Pelican regular who struggled tonight was Ryan Anderson, but he hit the dagger three off an assist by Tyreke Evans to put the Pelicans up 10 with just over three minutes to go.
The first three quarters were ugly, and it required a Herculean effort by Evans to keep them in the game, but he did just that. Now, the Pelicans return home to play the Nuggets just two games under .500, with a legit shot at the playoffs if they can stay healthy and continue to improve each and every game. And as you celebrate Christmas just 30 or so hours from now, don’t forget to give thanks for the present Sacramento gave us a little over five months ago.
Other Notes and Observations
– Jrue Holiday started the game off slowly, and was outplayed most of the night by Isaiah Thomas. I have no idea why the Pelicans didn’t try to put Holiday in the post against a guy 7 inches shorter, but Holiday stepped up late and hit a few big shots that helped the Pelicans pull away.
– Alexis Ajinca was also a big part of the Pelicans 20-5 run that helped put this game away. With the Pelicans up by just 3, Ajinca had a layup and followed that on the next possession with a huge put back slam. And just like that, the lead was up to 7. Ajinca was a foul machine and had a couple of bonehead plays in the first half, but I don’t know if they win the game without him tonight.
– It sounds like Eric Gordon could have come back into the game if the Pelicans really needed him tonight. Jason Smith also seems to be getting better. Is it possible that we see a fully healthy team (minus Stiemsma) Friday against the Nuggets? It sure looks like it.
– Ryan Anderson can’t defend Demarcus Cousins, but I am not sure anybody on this roster can. Monty seemed okay with Anderson covering Cousins one-on-one, a strategy I agree with. As I said in the preview, Isaiah Thomas is the guy who makes this Kings offense hum. Cousins is a monster in the post, but the rest of the guys just stand around while he operates down there. He is also the team leader in turnovers, and he had 4 more tonight. The Pelicans defended Cousins straight up, and as a result, the Kings only had four half-court three’s tonight. On the 27 possessions that ended with either a Cousins shot, free throw, or turnover, the Kings only scored 24 points. I will take that every time.
– Tonight was a classic Aminu tease game. He played with tons of energy and even hit numerous jumpers. This is the guy that we would all love to see signed to a long-term contract. But I won’t fall for it, not again. I will hold out for him to put 5 or 6 games like this together in a row before I get all giddy.
– Combined stats for Darius Miller, Anthony Morrow, and Lou Amundson: 17 minutes, zero points, 1 rebound, 1 block, and 5 fouls, -10. Brian Roberts wasn’t much better until the Kings put Jimmer on him and he hit a few shots. Unfortunately, Jimmer came right back at him and scored a quick 7 of his own. Bottom line, is that this team can’t afford injuries because the “next man up” is terrible. Eventually, this team will need some real depth to get through a long and grueling season.
– AD just hasn’t been the same since coming back from injury, but the guy has averaged 21 and 11 since returning. His ‘bad’ is everyone else’s great.
– The Kings shot 42 free throws tonight. Luckily, they missed 11 of them or this game would have been much closer. Time after time we see the opposing team get into the bonus early in quarters. Not only does this team give up a high field goal percentage, but now they are starting to foul at a ridiculous level too. To say that this defense has a long way to go would be an understatement.
– Two playoff spots for the taking. Dallas, New Orleans, Minnesota, and Denver will likely be the contenders (no offense Phoenix, but I am not a believer). After all that has happened early on, the postseason is still very much in play. That is why I asked for team health for Christmas.
– And speaking of Christmas, Happy Holidays to all. Enjoy your time with loved one’s and go out and support the Pelicans Friday night if you can. The first win against a .500+ team awaits!
@Hank_ any word on it yet?
Letting Cousins post and not doubling is so much smarter than the normal over helping we see. Anderson made him work and there were not wide open 3 point shooters because this team still doesn't know how to rotate properly. Sure he got points but like you said 24 points on 27 possessions is fantastic for this team.
Aminu won't hit those shots most of the time, but he is a valuable player to this team for his rebounding and defense. Monty needs to be careful how he deploys him in lineups, but Aminu needs minutes if this team is going to win games. Nice to see him come on as a small ball 4 (his 2 man numbers with Evans are excellent in 100 minutes this season). Let's see it more often. He is by far the superior option to Morrow on this particular team.
Whither Withey? I like what Ajinca brings and don't mind if he gets minutes over Withey, but seeing Amundson get minutes with Withey available makes me upset. Within a minute of being on the court, he gave two free throws to the opposition and got nailed for a 3-second violation on offense. If Withey can't get playing time against the Kings when we have a dozen fouls on our other big men, when can he? And yes, this dead horse will continue to be beaten until tender......
Roberts started slowly, but earned his minutes as a scorer and with a couple of steals.
I actually like the strategy of Ryan on Cousins if Anderson has to start, then switching right at the end where Davis took him on. I'd rather have Ryan in foul trouble than Davis, and Cousins got pissed that Ryan was making him work so hard. A couple of his fouls were questionable and the technical foul was on par with the Zach Strief unnecessary roughness call. I'd still like to see Withey get a shot...
If we improve our layup percentage we will be a dangerous team. Merry Christmas Pelicans, and enjoy a few days off!!!
Ajinca can defend Cousins, he is not strong, but he is tall
he and AD will be great pair, as long as avoiding foul trouble
This is the Tyreke we were all hoping we were getting. Surprised the coaches didn't get a second shooter in the game once it was clear Anderson was off. Clearly, this is a talent that Jrue has, so why not have him play heavier minutes but change his role so he spots up on the three point line on the other side from Anderson when Tyreke is running the point? A couple of other questions as the trade deadline nears, and the team decides what kind of assets they might want to pursue. Is Darius Miller ever going to get any sort of game back? Is he still not back medically to 100%? And is Rivers going to play for this team again this year, after this road trip? If he doesn't get to play again for a while, is McNamara going to write him off as a lost cause this January as promised, or is Monty's use of him making a near-term evaluation impossible?
@xman20002000 @Sportnlyfe Hey, Xman. Heard of the slogan "ABC: Always Be Closing"? The new basketball GM equivalent is "ABU: Always Be Upgrading." That means, always be prepared if something comes down the pipe. By now, you have to have a mental triage if you're the GM: what you'd like to get, what you'd give up in return, who's untouchable. Obviously, this encompasses more than just Austin and Roberts, but since all deals are potential deals until they're done, it's the team's job to start running trade scenarios in advance of any phone calls from other teams, no matter what hopes they have for their current roster. Happy Holidays.
Yeah I think trading Gordon only works if you pretend the Pelican do some fantasy trade like a three teamer for Asik and a back up SG, or one where you free up a huge amounts of cap space (and pretend you aren't going to have to over pay FA talent, like Tyreke, to get them). Neither are very likely to happen.
So we keep Gordon for at least a year. If Gordon continues to stay healthy and another year comes off his contract, he become more tradable. Then we will see if Dell really wants to trade Gordon or not.
Missed the game, but so happy we pulled this one out. We have somewhat of an easier schedule for a few games, so I believe playoffs are still possible for this team, especially if we unload Gordon for some solid second string guys. But if any of this sounds whack, it's because I took a bit more xanax than prescribed "accidently"
Liking the contribution from Ajinca. He's a much better rebounder than Amundson, primarily because of his ridiculous height.
I agree that the playoffs are very much in this team's reach.