Pelicans Outplay Pistons from Start to Finish in 105-94 Victory

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Published: January 14, 2015

With Jrue Holiday out with an injured ankle, the New Orleans Pelicans trotted out a starting lineup of Evans, Gordon, Cunningham, Davis, and Asik. This decision was an interesting one, as there is little data from this season to support the notion that it would be good defensively or at spacing the floor. Seven minutes later, Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon’s 11 combined points helped the Pelicans jump out to a 17-8 lead, and the team would never look back, defeating the Detroit Pistons 105-94.

Lots of good things to take away from the win tonight. Some that come to mind instantly:

  • In the game preview from this morning, I mentioned the battle of Pistons defensive rebounding vs. Pelicans offensive rebounding, and New Orleans won this battle decisively. Detroit was averaging a defensive rebound rate of 78.4% over the last 10 games, but that fell to around 70% tonight thanks to the Pelicans’ 11 offensive rebounds. Great work from the New Orleans big men (with a bit of help from Gordon), as those additional opportunities resulted in a 20-5 edge for the Pelicans in second chance points.
  • Anthony Davis performed admirably on both ends of the court, finishing with 27 points on 18 shots to go along with 10 rebounds (3 on the offensive end, as many as the entire Pistons team) and 4 blocks. Like many NBA teams, Detroit simply didn’t have the personnel to stop him.
  • Asik displayed his usual stone hands on multiple occasions, but he was a key contributor on the defensive end, holding Andre Drummond to just 2 points and 2 rebounds all game. Add that defense to his 13 rebounds and perfect 4-4 day at the stripe, and that’s pretty much what you want from a player of Omer’s talent level. He even had two assists!
  • Eric Gordon certainly had some issues taking care of the basketball – he led the team in turnovers with 4 and threw at least a couple other ill-advised passes – but his added responsibilities in relation to Holiday’s absence may have been a big factor. Apart from that, he played pretty well, showing hustle from start to finish (whether it be in the form of offensive rebounds or saving loose balls) and making himself a threat that the defense couldn’t ignore.
  • Tyreke played, in my opinion, his least selfish game of the season tonight. He still embarked on a couple of his classic “barrel at the rim” moves, but more often he was actively looking for open teammates. In a truly rare sight, he led the Pelicans in free throw attempts with 8, not to mention his near miss of a triple double (18 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds). The Tyreke we saw tonight is the type of player that needs to stick around even when New Orleans’ “real” starting PG returns from injury.
  • With Rivers and Smith out of the picture and new signee Nate Wolters only joining the team today, Jimmer played 19 minutes tonight and had a bigtime stretch in the 2nd quarter to help the Pelicans break it open. He was pretty sub-par (especially defensively) in the second half, but it was fun to get a glimpse of why the Kings made him a top-10 pick a few years back, even if it wasn’t in the form of raining 3s.
  • Quincy Pondexter made his Pelicans debut tonight, and he didn’t disappoint. In 32 minutes of action, he made 3 of 5 shots from beyond the arc, also grabbed 6 rebounds, and dished out 3 assists. Considering what the Pelicans started the season with at the small forward position, the Pelicans could be in pretty good shape with a Q-Pon/Cunningham tandem at that spot moving forward.
  • Somewhat related to that last point, Monty Williams played just 8 players tonight, and Tyreke Evans was the only guy who saw over 35 minutes. When Jrue returns, that will level off a bit, so it shouldn’t be a major concern. The main takeaway from this decision is that, when necessary, the Pels can go with a rotation of Jrue-Gordon-Evans/Pondexter-Cunningham/Anderson-Davis-Asik and be more than able to play a full game without allowing any individual player to burn out.

The next game for the Pelicans is Friday night in Philly where they’ll take on the 76ers. If you’re able, come join myself, a few other Bourbon Street Shots writers, and many other Pels fans at Tracey’s for our January watch party! It should be a blast.

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