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Shorter-Handed Pelicans Defeat Short-Handed Kings

Published: January 29, 2016

A good number of the New Orleans Pelicans defeated nearly the entire Sacramento Kings, 114-105, in a game that was not as close as this score or the Kings’ runs through the game may indicate. The Pelicans are 17-28 after the win, good for 12th in the West, though in a virtual tie with 11th place Denver and 3 games behind the 8th place Trail Blazers who are in a virtual tie with the 9th place Utah Jazz. The Sacramento Kings are the 10th place team, now 20-26.

On the game itself:

  • None of Evans, Davis, or Gordon played tonight, and the Pelicans still managed to play well. This was in part due to Anderson’s incredible start in which Gentry took advantage of a mismatch with Cauley-Stein that Sacramento adjusted to far too late. It should be noted that George Karl also missed the game along with Rudy Gay.
  • DeMarcus Cousins was contained to 26 points on 24 shots and 10 rebounds, all of the defensive glass. He had 6 turnovers to go with his 6 assists. Cousins is normally much more efficient, but Asik did a good job . . . again . . . of frustrating Boogie.
  • Rebounding was a big difference in this game. Without Davis, the Pelicans still out-performed the Kings overall on the glass. This translated into more free throws attempts and more field goal attempts for the Pelicans. In fact, 4 more free throw attempts (24-20) and 9 more field goal attempts (98-89). Given the 9 point margin of victory, these rebounds were key to the victory. Asik led the way with 13, but Norris Cole had the third most overall and led the guards with 7; Anderson had the second-most with 9.
  • Bryce Dejean-Jones may not look like he had a great line, but really did play well, all things considered. He played with excitement and poise. Anyone expecting greatness or mediocrity has unjustified expectations, but he can may be able to grab a rest-of-season deal somewhere in the NBA if he can pull off another game like tonight.

On some other issues:

  • This team is not tanking. If you still think this, you need to open your eyes. Might this change at some point? Sure, but that has not been the case and this game won’t be the trigger.
  • The Pelicans are “just 3 games out of eighth” is a near-repeat of something that was said a month ago and more. Given that this is repeated so often with so little change, the natural instinct should be discount the value of this fact with respect to the Pelicans making the playoffs, at least in isolation. If the team makes a trade, then it should be revisited, and similar for an injury to one of the four teams they are competing with for the eighth seed. The number of teams with an easier “just a couple games from eighth” position to work from is pretty important, as the last few weeks have shown.
  • The game tonight was against a short-handed and not-so-great team, but recent Pelicans games have cause some fans to think that Gordon and Evans are not good fits for the this team. Given evidence of this going back a couple seasons, this is reasonable to wonder about. I’m not convinced this kind of speculation is unwarranted, but a couple games against bad teams does not a coffin make.
  • We all expected these January wins. Just as the early losses were not terribly informative, so too are these recent wins. The over-reaction to losses was unfortunate, but so is the over-reaction to wins.
  • Continuing with the over-reaction theme: if a team has decided to part with a player for a certain kind of return, a few games of output will not make those decision-makers actually reconsider in most cases. Rather, a good run of games would more than likely be used to entice some fence-sitting or short-sighted buyers, in effect doing the opposite of what some would assume.
  • If this team can get a little more ball movement in the frontcourt and some perimeter defense, they may be able to make a run at the eighth seed.

The Pelicans host the Nets Saturday at 6 pm CT (UTC -6). The game is on Fox Sports New Orleans and the Pelicans Radio Network, 99.5 FM locally.

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