Pelicans Outlast Hornets with Hard-Fought 109-107 Victory

Published: January 15, 2016

For two teams who have been struggling so mightily as of late, it would have been difficult to predict a game so fun and exciting. And yet, that kind of game is exactly what all who watched got to see tonight. Ryan Anderson and Kemba Walker exchanged 3 after 3. Anthony Davis and Nic Batum showed off their respective degrees of basketball versatility. Alonzo Gee and Frank Kaminsky were unexpected difference-makers off of the bench. None of the game’s guards (besides Kemba) shot terribly efficiently, but all did a strong job of protecting the basketball and keeping the offenses moving. Just a fun 48 minutes of basketball to watch tonight led by the players you would expect, and the end result was a two-point win for the Pelicans.

Tonight’s game may have been one of Alvin Gentry’s best coached games of the season. My only real complaint relates to AD’s lack of aggression in the first half, but that may not even be on the head coach (and AD did do a good job of getting teammates involved during the first two quarters). The Pelicans exploited the Hornets’ inability to defend Anderson all first half, then adjusted when Batum switched onto Anderson in the second half. Gentry rode an unusual lineup of Holiday-Gordon-Evans-Gee-Davis for a decent amount of time down the stretch to match Charlotte’s small lineup while giving Batum a tougher match-up defensively, and then started going Anderson-for-Gee offense-defense subs in the final minute. Finally, the offense flowed through Jrue Holiday in the 4th quarter, not Tyreke Evans, and the ball moved better because of it.

Below, a brief look at My 3 Things to Watch from the pregame post, and then some individual player performance notes.

  1. 3-Point Defense. So, this one didn’t go so great. The Hornets finished over their Dec 1 – Jan 14 average in all aspects: 40% shooting (vs. 33.6% average) on 35 attempts (vs. 30.6 average). That being said – apart from Walker, Kaminsky and Daniels (who combined to go 9-13 from long range), the rest of the Hornets couldn’t hit anything (especially Batum and Lin). Overall, not a great showing defensively for the Pelicans in this part of the game, but they made enough 3s of their own to counteract it.
  2. Free Throw Volume. Great work by New Orleans here, holding Charlotte to only 12 free throw attempts (9 makes), only two of which coming from either Walker or Lin. Credit the defense for communicating and preventing the Hornets from getting easy looks inside which would have necessitated bail-out fouls by Pelicans big men.
  3. Pelicans in the Paint. The Pelicans started out slow here, totaling just 14 points in the paint in the first half, only two coming from Anthony Davis. However, they got back on track in a big way in the second half, literally doubling their first half total and finishing with 42 points from inside. Guards were both attacking and posting up opposing guards, as New Orleans made Charlotte pay for their small-ball lineups.

Game Notes

  • Ryan Anderson stole the show tonight from start to (almost) finish. He poured in 21 first half points on 12 shots (including 5-7 from beyond the arc) and then added 11 more on 4-7 shooting in the 2nd half, including one of the most impressive plays I have ever seen him make. Add 8 rebounds and 0 turnovers to that shooting, and it all adds up to one of Ryno’s best games in a Pelicans uniform. He was flat out fun to watch tonight.
  • Anthony Davis overcame a quiet first half to finish with 22 points on 14 attempts, also adding 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal in (and this part is key) only 35 minutes. AD has played quite a few 40+ minute games this season, so it’s nice to see Gentry scaling this back a bit.
  • Tyreke Evans continues to try to prove to us that he refined his 3-point shot while working his way back to full health earlier this season. He made 2 of 3 from long range tonight, bringing his 3P% this season to 39.2% (29-74 overall).
  • Jrue Holiday took some questionable shots earlier in the game, but he did a masterful job of running the Pelicans’ offense in the 4th quarter. As The Bird Writes noted, he scored or assisted on 19 of New Orleans’ 25 points in the game’s final period. Credit to Gentry for the plan of attack, Holiday for executing, and even Evans for deferring.
  • Alonzo Gee filled in nicely tonight in a role that the Pelicans surely expected Pondexter to fill this season. With Batum destroying New Orleans from mid-range, they used Gee to try to take him out of his rhythm offensively, and it worked fairly well.
  • Kemba Walker has really taken another step this season. He is doing to the NBA what he did to college opponents while at UConn. The Hornets have him at $12 million a year for the next 3 years after this one, which will likely end up looking like a steal of a contract.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.