I knew it! I was ready for this game, excited at the prospect of Phoenix's three guards, Anthony Davis, a potential Omer Asik resurgence, and New Orleans' home crowd pushing the Pelicans to victory and I wasn't disappointed.
That was a fun game. Both teams were top 12 offenses coming into the game, and neither side disappointed. The New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Phoenix Suns 110-106 at Smoothie King Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana. Tyreke Evans lead all scorers with 24 points and added eight rebounds and four assists. Ryan Anderson finished with 19 points, while Anthony Davis added 19 points and 18 rebounds.
With the victory, the Pelicans move to 16-15, while the Suns fall to 18-15. The Suns are currently just one game up on New Orleans in the battle for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. The next time these two teams play will be on March 19th.
Home Pellies are fun. The victory over Phoenix moved them to 10-4 at home and you can just see the energy and excitement when the team plays in front of their crowd. Having that homecourt advantage and being able to beat good teams at home is great for this team's playoff chances. With wins over Phoenix, San Antonio, and Cleveland, as well as some close games against Golden State and Dallas, the Pelicans are slowly developing a great homecourt advantage and that will benefit them in the long run.
The Pelicans came out agressive in the first quarter, ending the quarter with 31 points, but more importantly, 10 free throw attempts. The problem? The Pelicans only made five. Tyreke Evans played the entire quarter and made sure to get his shots up. He attacked the basket, he took a couple mid-range jumpers, he got to the line, and he even hit one of his two three-point attempts. His 12 points helped propel New Orleans into a strong second quarter, as outside of Anthony Davis, he was carrying that Pelicans offense.
The second quarter saw New Orleans turn into more of jump shooting team, except for Omer Asik. He did a great job of getting some good baskets, finishing with seven points and five rebounds in the second quarter, highlighted by some tough, nifty finishes at the basket. With Anthony Davis on the bench for the start of the second quarter, Ryan Anderson did a solid job of helping New Orleans' offense, finishing with seven points.
The Suns leaned on their bench for most of this quarter, specifically Gerald Green. He finished with 10 points in the quarter, including two three pointers. An explosive athlete, he did a great job keeping New Orleans' defense off balance. Beside Green, Eric Bledsoe had six points, two rebounds, two assists, and some pretty memorable defense on both Jimmer Fredette and Jrue Holiday.
Entering the second half, I was a bit worried about the Suns just hitting supernova and taking this game over. Outside of Gerald Green and his 15 points, Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe both had eight points, while Isaiah Thomas had just five. Those three seemed poised to take over in the third and fourth quarters. The Pelicans were shooting 52% at the time, and I thought some regression was in order, too. In retrospect, I'm glad to be kinda wrong about this.
The third quarter was tough for New Orleans, as the Suns went on an 11-0 run to take the lead. Even with New Orleans scoring on 55% of their shots, the Suns just looked great. The reason? Goran Dragic, who finished with 11 points in the third on 5-5 shooting. Alongside of Dragic's hot hand, I thought this was Phoenix's peskiest quarter, as Markieff Morris, Alex Len and P.J. Tucker were tough on the boards and did fine defensively.
What hurt Phoenix in the third quarter was a hot Jrue Holiday. After going 1-5 in the first half, he erupted for 12 points and two assists in the quarter, keeping the Pelicans in with some threes and finishing at the rim. Anthony Davis backed him up with four points and five rebounds, but Holiday deserves credit for help keeping New Orleans in this game.
Entering the fourth quarter and it was Evans, Holiday, and Anderson holding down the charge for New Orleans, while Eric Bledsoe's 11 points in the quarter held the Suns up and around at the end. Not one player stood out outside of Bledsoe as both teams went back and forth trying to grab the lead in the final minutes. The previously mentioned trio scored 21 of New Orleans' 29 points, as the Pelicans held on at the end.
-- Jimmer! I saw Jimmer do some nice things in the second quarter. He made a couple shots, he led the offense for a bit, and he fed Omer Asik for those nifty baskets I mentioned earlier. Hope this is the start of something good. We would all like that, no?
-- Jeff Withey got a DNP-CD tonight. Made me a little sad, but given the opponent, begrudgingly understandable.
-- Omer Asik finished with 11 points and eight rebounds. The defense wasn't all there, but with Asik getting some tough baskets and getting some free throw attempts, I'm hoping this performance can lead to him getting back to being an overall force and top option next to Anthony Davis.
-- Speaking of Davis, the power forward combination of he and Anderson combined for 38 points on 15-25 shooting and 22 rebounds. Davis did a great job of getting any and every rebound against Phoenix's small front line, while Anderson spaced the floor with three three pointers and did a good job of scoring with Davis on the bench.
-- Jrue Holiday: 21 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 turnovers, 2 steals. Numbers are fun and so is Jrue. Give this man some more spacing, a couple shooters on the outside, and some guys to move the ball around with, and I believe he can take that step forward. So much talent.
-- Austin Rivers was a -25. Ouch.