There have been plenty of instances this season where the Pelicans came out of the gate with their guns blazing — only to fizzle in the second half. Last night, the script was flipped.
The Pelicans (16-27) outscored the Bucks (19-27) 64-48 in the second half, en route to their 116-99 victory. It was the team’s third straight win, and their fifth in the past six games, the best stretch of the 2015-16 season thus far.
Offense was not coming easy in the first half. Tyreke Evans and Anthony Davis were ice cold, which usually puts the Pelicans in an early hole. However, two unlikely names stepped up to the plate and kept the offense afloat until they figured it out: Alonzo Gee and Toney Douglas.
Gee finished the night with a season high 12 points, most of which came in the first half right when his teammates needed it most. His 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal are about par for the course, but the point total definitely made him a plus player tonight. His name is not called on much in the offense this season, but he responded about as well as he could have tonight.
Norris Cole, who has replaced Eric Gordon in the starting lineup, got into foul trouble early tonight, forcing Alvin Gentry to substitute in Toney Douglas. Douglas has not gotten many chances this season, but that may change after tonight.
Jan 23, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Toney Douglas (16) shoots against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second half of a game at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Bucks 116-99. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
In the first minute of playing time Douglas hit a three while being fouled, a play that never fails to electrify a bench and a crowd. He would go on to hit 3 more threes and finish with 14 points, 4 assists and 3 steals.
The effort he brings on every possession on both sides of the ball has been what his career has been built on thus far. It always feels good to see a guy that works so hard see all of that hard work pay off, especially if it helped earn a win.
Cole was an unlikely source of firepower as well.
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He only scored 11 points, but he hit 3 out of his 5 three point attempts, a pair of which came on back to back possessions in the third quarter to put the Pelicans up by 7. For a 31% career three point shooter who is shooting 21% this year, nights like these are not common, so we should appreciate the effort while we can.
Cole was not the only Pelican on the mark from three point range tonight. The team set a franchise record for threes made in a game with 17, led by 6 from Ryan Anderson.
Anderson hit 6 of his 11 three balls and squeaked out the most points on the team with 23 (over Davis’ 22). He had only hit 3 of his last 10 attempts over the last three games, so it was good to see “The Flamethrower” get back to his shot making ways.
Jan 23, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson (33) shoots Milwaukee Bucks during the second half of a game at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Bucks 116-99. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Even though individual shot making played a big part in the success of the offense, as per usual, the ball movement continues to show signs of improvement.
The players just seem to know what they should do with the ball, something that was not as common as one would think as recently as last month. Everyone from Holiday to Anderson to Davis is keeping their head up and looking for their teammates, and higher quality shots are being taken as a result.
Of the 43 field goals made by the Pels tonight, 33 were assisted, the highest mark of the entire season.
The ball was not being forced either, as they only committed 8 turnovers. The pace may not be what a lot of people anticipated for this season, but the efficiency over the past few games has been even better.
The Pels have won their last three games by at least 15 points (114-99 vs. Minnesota, 115-99 vs. Detroit, 116-99 vs. Milwaukee). The competition is not elite by any means, but they are similar in record, and wins as dominant as these are hopefully a sign of things to come.
The Pelicans will try to continue earn their first 4 game winning streak of the season against the Houston Rockets on Monday night. Tip-off is at 7 P.M. CST at the Smoothie King Center…