After starting their home stand with a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday night, the Pelicans kept the ball rolling in a dominant 115-99 victory over the Detroit Pistons yesterday night at the Smoothie King Center in NOLA.
Since their brutal 4 game losing streak that bottomed out in the embarrassing loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Pelicans have won 4 of their last 5 games, with the lone loss coming in excruciating fashion against the Memphis Grizzlies.
And dare we say — are the Pelicans finally getting “hot”?
And without a now-injured Eric Gordon, who may be out for at least a month no less.
Tyreke Evans gave the Pels a 2-0 lead 30 seconds into the game, and they did not relinquish that advantage for the remainder of the contest.
Evans’ knee has been bothering him over the last stretch of games, even after getting it drained just a week ago. According to the coaching staff, a minutes restriction was going to be placed on Evans after the procedure.
But after being limited to 21 minutes o the court against the Timberwolves, he was back up to 31 minutes against the Pistons.
Jan 8, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans (1) moves the ball down the court during the first quarter of the game against the Indiana Pacers at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
I assume this means the condition of his knee has gotten better, and his 22 points and 10 assists last night definitely add relevance to that possibility, but Evans has been known to at least try to play through almost anything.
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The Pelicans would love for him to play as much and as effectively every night, especially with Eric Gordon going down with injury, so hopefully he will continue to trend in the right direction.
Gordon’s three point shooting ability has been a critical part of the Pelicans offense this year. As a team, they shoot about 25 three pointers per game.
Tonight, they only shot 12.
That huge drop off was not because of a lack of ball movement. In fact, it was just the opposite. All night long, the Pels were finding the open man, making the extra pass, and most importantly, knocking down their shots.
The Pelicans came out firing on all cylinders in the first half, outscoring Detroit 72-52. The third quarter was once again a struggle, scoring only 18 points, but that regression is acceptable when the first half was that good.
Anthony Davis led all scorers with 32 points on 13-23 from the field. Davis was great tonight, and nothing he did tonight should be too hard to recreate down the stretch. He hit his jump shots when he was open, but he was not afraid to attack the basket when the matchup was favorable.
Jan 21, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) attempts a dunk over Detroit Pistons center Aron Baynes (12) during the second half of a game at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Pistons 115-99. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Last season, Monty Williams infamously stated that he wanted AD to get at least 20 shots off per game. As a result, the rest of the team was trying to force the ball to their star, but the opportunities were far from ideal.
That was not the story tonight. Evans, Jrue Holiday, and Norris Cole did a fantastic job of pushing the pace not only to speed up the game, but to find Davis open looks.
They may have thrown a few too many lobs for my taste, but it is hard to argue when the offense is flowing like it was.
The scoring of Brandon Jennings and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was almost enough to pull the Pistons back into the game.
Jennings has always been able to score points in a hurry, so his 20 points in 20 minutes tonight, although great, were nothing too out of the ordinary.
Caldwell-Pope is a solid perimeter defender who has really come into his own on offense this year. Tonight he shot 9-17 for 23 points, which led his team.
The Pelicans did a nice job of limiting Reggie Jackson, the usual catalyst for this offense, to 8 points and 5 assists while also forcing 4 turnovers.
Andre Drummond has almost without question become the league’s best rebounder. He collected 9 boards on the offensive glass alone, topping out at a total of 22 for the game.
He was a bit of a turnstile as a rim protector tonight, which the Pelicans took full advantage off, but the numbers are impressive nonetheless.
Speaking of high numbers, the Pelicans side of the scoreboard has been full of them over the last stretch of games.
This contest marked the 5th straight in which they were able to hit the 100 point mark, and improved their record in such games to 15-7 on the season. You may want to brace yourself, because that means in games when the Pelicans score less than 100, they are a whopping (really brace yourself):
Mar 4, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) reacts after a basket by guard Tyreke Evans during the fourth quarter of a game against the Detroit Pistons at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Pistons 88-85. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
There is no doubt that number is terrifying, but it makes sense. For the most part, the Pelicans offense has been the lynchpin for the success of the team. Some nights, bad shots have fallen and the Pelicans have gotten lucky.
But the 115 points put up last night was largely a product of executing the way they want to. Of the 12 threes they took, they knocked down 5. A perfect 18-18 from the free throw line certainly helped.
That kind of efficiency was simply beautiful to watch, and it should not be too much to ask to see it on a more consistent basis.
The Pelicans will look to find similar offensive success in Saturday’s home matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks (6 P.M. CST)….