Monster Night from Davis Gives Pelicans 2nd Straight Win

It’s official, y’all – Pelicans basketball is fun again.

In a game that ended up being pretty close most of the way through, New Orleans protected their home court and held on to beat the Phoenix Suns 122-116. Anthony Davis led the way for the Pels, putting up a monster stat line of 32 points on 22 shots, 19 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 2 steals. He and Ryan Anderson combined for exactly half of the team’s total points, as the lineup with those two sharing the floor proved to be very difficult for Phoenix to stop.

For most of this game, it seemed like the Pelicans were the better team, but yet the game remained close throughout. In my eyes, there were two key contributing factors which helped to keep the Suns in the game. The first was how quickly they got into the bonus in the second quarter – roughly two minutes in. If I have ever seen a team get there faster than they did tonight, I certainly don’t remember it. Phoenix went 14-15 from the free throw line in the second quarter as a result, enabling them to climb within one point of New Orleans at halftime, despite the Pels playing the better overall game.

The second factor was the Suns’ impressive 3-point shooting. Some of those looks were highly contested, tough shots, but that often ended up not even mattering. Eight different Phoenix players made at least one 3-pointer tonight, making 17 out of 36 attempts overall (47.2%). On the other end, Pelicans players not named Eric Gordon or Ryan Anderson combined to go just 2-11 from long range, making it difficult for New Orleans to keep up in that part of the game. Of course, one of those two was a monumentally huge shot from Davis, putting the Pelicans up by 3 with 54 seconds to go on what was a pretty terrible offensive possession to that point.

All-in-all, it was a great team effort tonight from the Pels, and a really fun, fast-paced game to watch. Expect more of the same when New Orleans travels to Phoenix for their rematch on Wednesday night.

Other Notes:

  • Things are finally starting to click on both ends for this Pelicans team. Offensively, the ball movement is miles ahead of where it was over the first couple weeks of the season. Defensively, although the score might not lead you to believe it, I still saw improvement tonight. There is less confusion, as players seem to know where they’re supposed to be in most cases. As I mentioned above, the Suns made some tough shots from long range and got a bunch of free throws gift wrapped for them in the second quarter; if that doesn’t happen, this game probably isn’t nearly as close.
  • Ish Smith is getting more and more comfortable in his role with this Pelicans team. He is one of the squad’s best ball-handlers, and he does a pretty good job of taking care of the rock on most nights. He has been able to penetrate with relative ease despite defenders sagging way off of him, a skill that most of us thought was owned by only Tyreke Evans on this team. Oh yeah, and he also finished one rebound (2nd on the team to AD) and two assists shy of a triple-double tonight, while also recording three steals. Keep it up, Ish.
  • Ryan Anderson was absolutely on fire in the first half tonight, and if it weren’t for the Suns sticking PJ Tucker on him for most of the second half, it probably would have continued. Even so, Anderson finished with 29 points on 14 shots (some late-game FTs helped a bit there), including a 4-7 showing from 3-point range. It is so fun to see him back in a groove, and the crowd really feeds off of his success.
  • Alonzo Gee played what may have been his best game this season, finishing with a very versatile stat line of 8 points on 6 shots, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals. While usually not much of a scoring threat, is at least someone the opponent has to be mindful of from long range, and he helped in that regard tonight even though he missed his only two 3-point attempts.
  • Eric Gordon has been absolutely fearless from long range, and I love it. If he is open, he is shooting, and seeing as that’s his best NBA skill at this point, that is the right thing to do. He made 5 of his 12 3-point attempts (42%), which equates to 1.25 points per attempt. I’ll take that any day.
  • This is a topic for another day, but I’m worrying more and more about the contracts the Pelicans gave out this summer. I have said all along that I thought the Ajinca deal was fair and the Asik deal was a year too long but fine from an average annual salary perspective, but all of that goes out the window if they’re only combining for ~15 minutes per game. Obviously, Anderson’s hot shooting is a big factor, but Gentry knew what he was getting from those two when the Pelicans re-signed them; if each of their roles continue to be this limited or inconsistent, it makes those contracts pretty difficult to justify. It’s still early, so I’m trying not to jump to any conclusions yet, but consider me concerned.

6 responses to “Monster Night from Davis Gives Pelicans 2nd Straight Win”

  1. Refs gave the Suns plenty of favorable calls in this game as well. Glad the Pels didn’t let that lose their control over this one. Cluch FT shooting down the stretch.
    Love when AD shows that fire!

  2. NolaWill i assume you’re joking, but I wonder what that kind of my package might land. Those guys are highly available.  Maybe closer to the trade deadline something might shake loose. I still think the Asik as Bogut & Ajinca as Speights might eventually work out. Offensively those guys will benefit with the guard rotation settles in a bit better.

  3. I will get crazy and predict 13/5 for the record to close out 2015. putting us at 500 to start the new year.  I mean, I’m not betting money on it or anything. Just boldly posting it somewhat anonymously in the comment section here

  4. Watched my tape of the game though I saw Gee hit a 3 early in the game from the corner across the court from the team’s bench

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