Pelicans Halt Hawks’ Win Streak at 19 with Convincing 115-100 Victory

Published: February 3, 2015

Motion to rename the Pelicans to the Streak Stoppers?

Heading into tonight, New Orleans had halted the six game winning streaks of the Pistons and Clippers, along with the seven and sixteen game losing streaks of the Nuggets and Knicks. Tonight, the Pels had a shot to conquer the longest streak yet against a Hawks team that had won nineteen games in a row. What was the result, you ask?

atl hawks

The Pelicans didn’t just win this game; they created early separation and absolutely refused to relinquish it. They led by 10 points at the end of the first quarter, & slowly but steadily increased that lead – 13 at halftime, 14 after 3 quarters, and 15 to end the game. The letdown that many feared was coming never showed up, and New Orleans cruised to their sixth win in their past seven games. Let’s talk about how they got the job done.

  • That Unibrow Guy. Lots of box score numbers jump out when reviewing Anthony Davis’ performance tonight, but the biggest one to me is the offensive rebounds total – 8. Not even including the second chance opportunities that he created for his teammates, AD earned 4 dunks and 2 free throw attempts (making one) from those 8 offensive boards. That’s 9 of Davis’ 29 points coming as a direct result of his work on the offensive glass. Add that to his 5 defensive rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, & 1 steal, and the result is another monster performance from the Pelicans’ MVP candidate.
  • Revitalized Eric Gordon. Another 20-point night for Gordon, and it only took him 11 shots to get there, largely thanks to his 4-6 shooting night from 3-point range (Korver who?). It is important to look beyond Eric’s raw shooting numbers to truly see the improvement in his game. On the ball, Gordon once again showed his effectiveness as the team’s secondary ball-handler, finishing with 7 assists compared with only 1 turnover. The open 3-point looks he is finding are just as much a result of his excellent movement around the court without the basketball as they are from the team’s improved ball movement. Another all-around great game for the Pelicans’ shooting guard, who has been nothing short of  excellent over his past 13 games.
  • Tyreke the Facilitator. I had to do a double-take when I saw Evans’ assist to turnover ratio tonight: 12 assists and zero turnovers. Tyreke continues to admirably fill the void left by Jrue’s injury, enough for many to question who should start at PG when Holiday returns (a topic that will not be addressed in this post tonight). The point here is that Evans is running this Pelicans offense immaculately, which means nothing but great things for the Pelicans moving forward. In Anthony Davis’ post-game interview with ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt, Davis mentioned the fact that no one on the team cares who is doing the scoring, and Evans’ play of late provides strong justification for that claim.
  • High IQ Defense. One of the biggest issues of this Pelicans team earlier this season was a shortage of “high basketball IQ” guys who always know where to be and when to be there. Enter Dante Cunningham and Quincy Pondexter. Both players showed a real knack for making savvy off-ball cuts, but their major impact tonight came on the defensive end. Kyle Korver didn’t even attempt a 3-pointer until the second half, and his first one was open because Cunningham received zero help after getting screened in transition. Korver’s only other 3-point attempt was a result of a very well designed play that saw Pondexter get caught on a pick at the top of the key. Apart from those two plays, Cunningham or Q-Pon were both glued to Korver whenever he was behind the 3-point line while simultaneously knowing when it was okay to help down towards the paint. Quincy’s shooting hasn’t quite come around yet like we all had hoped, but he helps the team in so many other ways that he is a clear net positive when he’s on the court.
  • Rebound Vacuum Asik. Omer collected more rebounds (17) than the Hawks’ starting front court of Paul Millsap & Al Horford combined (15), and even managed to score 1.5 points per shot thanks to converting 5 of his 6 free throw attempts. Asik’s hands of stone can be infuriating at times, but he helped the Pelicans in more ways than he hurt them tonight. As long as Asik is visibly engaged and working hard, he generally makes a positive impact for New Orleans.
  • Active Ryan Anderson. It’s always a bummer when Anderson isn’t hitting his 3-pointers, but it’s even worse when he compounds those struggles by failing to make an impact in any other way offensively. Ryno only went 1-4 from 3-point range today (with his lone make coming with 30 seconds remaining), but finished with 15 points on just 10 field goal attempts. How? Movement without the ball and relentlessness in the paint. While he scored a good bit of those points late in the game (8 of his 15 came in the 4th quarter), Anderson ensured that there would be no miracle comeback for Atlanta tonight.
  • Positive Contributions Everywhere. Apart from a couple of bone-headed turnovers from Jimmer Fredette along with a few minutes for John Salmons who should never play another minute for the Pelicans ever, everyone did their part to propel New Orleans to victory over a very talented opponent. Looking back on the game, there is really nothing else I can be upset about. I would have liked to see Ajinca replace Salmons in the Fredette-Pondexter-Salmons-Anderson-Asik lineup that played about 4 minutes tonight against the Hawks second unit (outscored by 3 points in that time), but that’s only a minor gripe in the grand scheme of things. A well-coached and well-played game overall that really makes you feel good as a fan of the team.
  • Push, Paint, Profit. Before the game, I mentioned two main scoring avenues on which to focus based on the way that both of these teams play – transition and points in the paint. Both teams typically do a very good job in preventing their opponents from scoring in transition, and tonight, the Pelicans nearly doubled up the Hawks in fast break points (17 to 9). From an interior offense perspective, the Pelicans’ knack for scoring inside prevailed over the Hawks’ usually strong restricted area defense, and while New Orleans didn’t do a particularly great job of keeping Atlanta out of the paint, they won the overall battle 52-46. Therefore, the Pelicans held a +8 advantage in transition scoring and a +6 edge in points in the paint. 8+6=14. The Pels won by 15. Hmmmmmmmmmm.

On Wednesday, the Pelicans have a huge match-up in New Orleans against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Pels are two games ahead of OKC in the standings and one game behind Phoenix for the 8th seed, and a win in one of their next two games (New Orleans plays in Oklahoma City on Friday night) would secure the tie-breaker for the Pels should they finish with the same record as the Thunder. Incredible win tonight, and hopefully more of the same is on the horizon!


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