Complete Team Effort Leads to Pelicans Victory Over Denver

On some nights, the stars win games by themselves. But over the course of an 82 game season, a good team needs production from everybody on their roster to sustain success. Guys go down with injuries, and the next man up has to earn his paycheck. Or sometimes guys struggle and a reserve has to provide a spark. Tonight, the Pelicans got an unexpected contribution from Darius Miller and solid efforts from Alexis Ajinca and Anthony Morrow that helped spark a 105-89 victory.

Ajinca, Miller, and Morrow got more minutes than usual tonight because Eric Gordon and Jason Smith were both out due to injuries. Miller made a huge 4-point play at the end of the first quarter that pushed the Pelicans lead up to nine, while Ajinca filled in admirably for Anthony Davis in the first half after Davis picked up two quick fouls. Morrow started the game and his three-point shooting kept the Nuggets defense honest, opening up big lanes for Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans.

Speaking of Evans, he was incredible yet again tonight, as he did a little bit of everything. Evans had a team high in both points and assists (19 and 10), while pulling down 7 rebounds in just 32 minutes. He attacked the lane with reckless abandon all night, racking up at least three or four additional ‘Kobe Assists’ and even hit three jumpers (including a three) when the Nuggets played off of him.

On any other night, Jrue Holiday would have been considered the star of the game as he was terrific on both ends. He dominated his matchup with Ty Lawson, scoring 17 points on 8 of 13 shooting with 8 assists and four steals. He absolutely hounded Lawson all night, forcing him to commit eight turnovers and go just 3-12 from the field.

It was a total team effort as the Pelicans got their first win against a +.500 team this year. Now they need to get two in a row as they head to Houston tomorrow night.

Other Notes and Observations

– Anthony Davis was in foul trouble throughout the first half and only got 28 minutes total, but he still racked up 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 blocks. The most exciting thing, though, was that this team was able to maintain their lead (and even extend it) when Davis was on the bench. When Davis can get a breather, he comes back into games that much more dominant, so let’s hope this trend continues.

– Tyreke was almost always in the game when Davis was out, and it was smart on Monty’s part because they needed his rebounding. Evans has no problems mixing it up with big men down low, and even though he had 19 points and 10 assists, his rebounds might have been the most valuable thing tonight.

– Speaking of rebounds, Alexis Ajinca has been a beast on the boards since joining the Pelicans. In 51 minutes of action, he has 23 rebounds.

– I know it seems like we bang the “Trade Eric Gordon” drum a lot on this site, but people have to understand it is nothing personal. As you can see from tonight’s game, this team can score without Gordon, and in a lot of ways his skill set is redundant. You dont want to tie up $15 million with a redundant piece. If the Pelicans can get some role players that can provide shooting, defense, and/or rebounding, they would have to take that and put it around a terrific Core Four.

– Al-Farouq Aminu hit a couple of jumpers tonight and rebounded as usual, but he has to give the ball up to a guard after a rebound. Aminu running the fast break never ends well.

– Brian Roberts…. you know what, tonight is a good night. Moving on.

– The only concern I have moving forward is the Pelicans inability to get to the line regularly. It was a bit of a problem again tonight. In fact, there were three quarters where they didn’t even get into the penalty. Some nights jump shots aren’t going to fall, and we all know this defense can be picked apart. You have to get to the line in this league to have a consistent offense.


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18 responses to “Complete Team Effort Leads to Pelicans Victory Over Denver”

  1. Wow. This was just one of those games that our guys needed. After a difficult road trip and have those small glimpses of what the future holds, it’s hard not to be excited. Not necessarily based on this year. This season is about getting Jrue, RyNO, Reke, and AD to get to that comfort level that all great teams have. I mean come on, Dell is our manager. He will make a deal as soon as the right one presents itself. Everyone in the organization is about building and continued success. Enjoy the Jrue to AD lobs and Anderson shooting out of his mind some nights. Enjoy Brow blocking almost everything he can reach. Enjoy Reke spin-moving and getting the reverse. There are so many reasons to be excited in the next couple of years. Great write up Michael.

  2. Is Brian Roberts really awful or is that just me? 
    Good win. We led early and increased the lead, keeping a safe lead the whole game, and that’s much better to watch than a team playing from a hole every single game.

  3. Yes Roberts is that bad. If you are gonna have bad pg play, it should be rivers who is developing at that position.

  4. It really was a good move picking up ajinca. He and davis should play a little bit more together tommorow. Their length will trouble Harden and Lin attacking the basket

  5. I think Gordon has been playing great.  I never really held the “my heart is in phoenix” thing against him either.  But it’s time to deal him.  That 15 million can be used to make us a true contender.  Also, Roberts needs to go and Rivers needs to play.  Roberts was awful last night.  Dude dribbles the shot clock down to 7 and takes a long contested 2 pointer.  At least rivers can match up on D and is ok on offense (plus he’s 7 years younger).  I would take a Rudy Gay type deal for him.  Gordon for Wilson Chandler would be great, but after the way WC burned us last night I don’t know if Denver would bite.

  6. No reason to rush to trade Gordon. Dell will do whats best for the team and that doesnt mean taking the first trade that crosses the table. 
    Speaking of Dell, hes the man. Jrue and Evans were both steals in their trades and I dont think we’re overpaying either player. 
    We have 4 players with above an 18 PER this year.

  7. Hank_  
    Four players with PERs in the top 50 in the NBA right now!  With 30 teams, a team should average 1.67 players in the top 50 and we have 4.  Further, they all have PERs at 18.60 or above.  That means three of them are Solid 2nd Options on offense, and Davis is an Bona fide All-Star and an MVP candidate.  
    So Dell picked up two Solid 2nd Options on offense who can play defense, rebound, get assists etc., for an injured draft pick, a protected 2014 draft pick (which looks like #12 right now but will very likely fall in the dreaded 10th-15th range) Vasquez, and Lopez.  All I really miss out of that is Lopez, ’cause we could use a true C to allow Davis to play PF.  And if Dell finds a good C via free agency or a trade, I will forget about Lopez.

  8. DavidLeBoeuf  
    You have to understand Gordon is still virtually untradeable.  His salary is at least $5M/year more than it should be based on his current performance and his contract has 2.5 more seasons to run.  Then add in a horrible injury history with the possibility that a team won’t get him on the court for long stretches.
    So you will have to take back about $5-10 million in salary belonging to literally useless players (Bynum anyone?) and get about $5M in productive player’s salaries.  And then you hope some of those useless players contracts end sooner.
    A Bynum trade would allow us to save half of his $12M annual salary by waiving him.  The following trades work via trade machine: Gordon for Bynum, Gordon for Bynum and Clark, Gordon for Bynum and Miles, and Gordon for Bynum and Clark and Mile.

  9. The crowd was much better last night.  Hopefully lots of people who got Pelicans tickets for Christmas continue to show up to the games after they go back to work.  Walking out of the arena after a victory sure is pleasant!
    Great win.  To see Ryan Anderson lead the team in rebounds and Tyreke lead the team in assists while beating the other team in both categories in a win is a beautiful thing.   The Mystery Men lineup (Roberts, Amundson, Ajinca, and Miller plus Evans) also came through big time, much to my surprise.  They held the lead against their Nugget counterparts throughout the 2nd quarter.
     I addition to our 4 qualified players with PER above 18, we also have Withey in the top 10 of PER if you include those who haven’t played enough minutes to qualify.   I’d love to see him get enough playing time to knock him down to #49…..

  10. DavidLeBoeuf 
    The Pels would have until Jan 7th to waive Bynum and lose all but the 1st $6M of his contract.  Go Dell!  (If I had to, I’d just trade Bynum or Gordon straight up to gain cap space for FAs or trades.)

  11. Davis missing time could have been a blessing in disguise. As much as I hate it when people say a team plays better when its best player is out, playing a few games without AD may have prepared the guys for situations like tonight when he gets into foul trouble. 
    Also, on a lighter note, I think that Morrow would be a great player if he had some athleticism. We know he can shoot and he has surprisingly quick hands on D; unfortunately for him the rest of his body doesn’t seem nearly as quick.

  12. We’ve to wait til after the Saints poatseason til the crowds really pick up and a blockbusting trade along the way if it happens.

  13. To Bill Simmons think the Pelicans did a stupid trade for Holiday but he’s too dumb to realize that the ttrade has made some good results.The Cavs are ready to trade Bynum that can solve the Pels problems at center just kidding.

  14. Well guys I believe I see a fair trade to make our selves contenders immediately. Eric Gordon to Cleveland for Bynam and Waiders. Cleveland will do anything to get rid of Bynam and he has a great contract. Waiders will be great off the bench with tyreke starting.

  15. It’s a shame the Pelicans aren’t in the Southeastern Division (or in the Eastern Conference at least.)They would be a lock for that top 4 seed to a non-division winner.

    When HEALTHY:
    Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon are a fine starting backcourt. And at this rate, Tyreke Evans deserves 6th Man of the Year. ( I applaud his “It’s not who starts, it’s who finishes mentality”)  Anthony Morrow is a great outside shooter. Aminu is becoming a defensive ace.  Brian Roberts is the best backup point guard New Orleans has had since 07-08 with Jannero Pargo. Darius Miller can give quality minutes. Austin Rivers is ready if need be and can be plugged in a quick few minutes (say end of first, early 2nd) without loss of quality if the team really needs him. (injuries, back-to-back.) Their starting frontcourt has firepower. Ryan Anderson is a nice stretch-4. And Anthony Davis’ game speaks for itself. And the bench of their frontcourt will get it done by committee. Lou Amundson is a hustle guy.  Jason Smith has the experience (and outside shot). Alexis Ajinca also brings another hustle guy. Greg is a good young guy to have. Haven’t seen much of Jeff Withey for analysis.
    They have height for the first time since their centers were Tyson Chandler, Hilton Armstrong, and Melvin Ely.  (Brian Roberts at 6″1 is the only guy shorter than 6″4 according to ESPN.) especially in the frontcourt. Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis are both 6″10. Stiemsma is 6″11. Jason Smith and Jeff Withey are both 7″0 and Alexis Ajinca is 7″2. 
    I only wish all 15 players for a team could suit up instead of 12 because when everybody gets healthy this team could get it done in the playoffs by committee.

  16. Bad move. Waiters has a terrible attitude and is very selfish. Doesn’t look to find other players at all and thinks he is a superstar.

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