Pelicans Beat Cavaliers, Anthony Davis Shines

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Published: January 28, 2014

As I said in the preview the rest of the season for the New Orleans Pelicans is all about Anthony Davis. But do you want to know what was so great about the 100-89 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers? Even with Anthony Davis’ huge game, it wasn’t actually all about him. Nearly everyone who played significant minutes contributed to the victory. Yes, the team was carried by Davis and Eric Gordon, but how often are people just generally pleased with the team’s performance?

This is the way the Pelicans’ offense should run. Feed Davis and have everyone else chip in. During the big man’s first season we marveled at how advanced his offensive game was. This season it’s taken another big step. He kills you on the pick and roll, can cut baseline, play with his back to the basket, or just consistently make a nice mid-range jumper. There are other players who can score on this team, but none do so as efficiently and effectively as Davis does. 30 points on 18 shots and 7 attempted free throws is outstanding.

And then there is the absolutely insane defense. Davis tied his career high with 8 blocks which was more than the number of shots he missed. But, more than that, he altered multiple others that he couldn’t quite get a finger on. If you cannot get your hand on the ball to block a shot you at least want to obscure the shooter’s vision of the rim. Davis pretty much does that anytime he gets those Go Go Gadget arms above his shoulders. Impacting the game on both ends of the court is how you become a top 10 player in the league. Davis is certainly on his way.

But I did say this was a great team win, so how did everyone else do?

–I was pretty happy with what Brian Roberts did tonight. He focused more on facilitating the offense rather than being the focal point. He’s a great spot up shooter from behind the arc and I like him better as an off ball guard. Let him hang out beyond the three point line and receive kick out passes.

–Greg Stiemsma had a strong game and it earned him 31 minutes. He set a career high with 11 rebound and finished 1 point shy of a double-double. It certainly helps that Varejao was out but Stiemsma still deserves credit for you know actually taking advantage and playing well. This will probably earn him more burn going forward than he should have, and at the expense of Withey, but such is the Monty Williams school of thought. Oh, and he had 4 fouls.

–It seemed that Tyreke Evans wasn’t fully recovered from his illness or still getting back up to game speed tonight. He shot 20% from the field and didn’t look like his usual self picking up 5 fouls and 3 turnovers. Knowing this he looked to pass more than normal which led to him picking up 5 assists. It allowed more for Anthony Davis to operate which I think we’re all okay with.

–Austin Rivers had a scary moment where the knee of a defender went right into his back and caused what looked like spasms. Luckily, as a few moments on the ground he popped back up and made his free throws. As Ryan pointed out this week, Rivers has made a significant leap this season and for him to have that progress setback by injury would have been disappointing.

–Darius Miller is doing a great job of carving out solid rotation minutes with his play. He understands what the team needs from him and just comes out and does it. Space the floor with his strong shooting from deep and make some nice passes to keep the ball movement going.

–And we have Eric Gordon. He’ll have games like this. 20 points and 9 assists. And it will unfortunately be overshadowed by Davis. Gordon talked this week about how Monty Williams’ offense doesn’t need him to put up points to score effectively. However it was nice to see that Monty recognized the team would need someone to score and allowed Gordon to do so.

–And lastly the defense. Still plenty of issues there since Anthony Bennett put up a career high 15 points.

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