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.