Anthony Davis scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in a 92-84 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Well hey! The Pelicans are now over .500 and they’re on a two-game winning streak! The first such streak in about a month. The Pelicans needed this win after a loss to New York, and they looked really good, constantly keeping Minnesota at an arm’s length for most of the second half. Without Ryan Anderson, the Pelicans didn’t do much beyond the arc, finishing 3-4 from three, but finished with 50% shooting from the floor. Sometimes, you forget the Pelicans have one of the best offenses on the entire league.
The Timberwolves started off well, converting on shots at the rim by Thaddeus Young and Gorgui Dieng, resulting in a 13-3 lead. Along with Young and Dieng, Andrew Wiggns also did a great job attacking and playing aggressively on both sides. Then, Minnesota’s defense came to life, allowing the Pelicans to get back into the game with a 15-5 run. With no Jrue Holiday for the Pelicans, Tyreke Evans did a great job of both attacking the rim and facilitating to Eric Gordon from three and Anthony Davis operating at the rim and in the mid range.
Going into the half, the Pelicans were playing really well, shooting 58% from the floor and finding good looks from mid-range. When the offense stalled, Gordon and Evans did a great job of resetting and getting better attempts. The offense was spread out well among the rotation, and even without Holiday, the ball was moving around the perimeter with ease. Defensively, the Pelicans were winning, but Minnesota did a great job of getting good looks, evidenced by their 15 assists on 20 field goal attempts.
On Minnesota's end, the Wolves were attacking New Orleans with a strong inside attack. Gorgui Deing and Nikola Pekovic did a great job of attacking New Orleans' post players, finishing 7-12 from the field for 14 points and 11 rebounds. Dieng also moved the ball well, dishing out three assists. Young started the hot start with 11 points, while Andrew Wiggins and Mo Williams each had seven points each, WIggins being more active with a couple of excellent finishes at the rim, while Williams made a couple of layups.
The third quarter was where the Pelicans did a good job of keeping Minnesota at an arm’s length. The quarter saw Minnesota inch closer and closer to New Orleans, only to then watch the Pelicans score to keep the lead around five or so. Whether it was Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, or Nate Wolters, the Pelicans did a great job of executing. On Minnesota’s end, this was a pretty weird Mo Williams quarter. He didn’t have a field goal, had a couple bad passes, but got to the free throw line.
The third quarter was also a great quarter that saw New Orleans turn up on the defensive end, allowing just 19 points. The Pelicans trio of wings - Evans, Gordon, and Pondexter, did a great job of forcing mid range jumpers from Robby Hummel (he was hitting them earlier) and the once hot, turned cold Thaddeus Young. Again, if it wasn't for Mo Williams going 5-5 from the free throw line, the Wolves would've scored under 15 points in the third, and the lead would've ballooned well into double digits.
The fourth quarter was much of the same for New Orleans. The Pelicans kept a lead hovering around four to six points, got the shots they wanted and converted, resulting in a much needed victory. Let’s jump to some of these notes.
— A quiet Anthony Davis performance was 21 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and one block. Early in the game, his defense looked bad, allowing Thad Young to dupe him on a couple plays, including one that resulted in an easy dunk. However, his defense settled down and improved as the game went on. Other than his shooting performance - a meh, but acceptable 9-23, Davis played quite well.
— No Ryan Anderson left the bench with no real sixth man, resulting in a weakened bench. However, I thought the bench faired decently in this game. Quincy Pondexter played some solid defense and just closed some gaps on that side of the floor, Nate Wolters did a solid job of moving the ball and Alexis Ajinca did a fine job of being big and offering a counter against Wolves center Nikola Pekovic.
— Tyreke Evans played well, properly moving the offense with his passing and giving Minnesota fits with his ability to get to the rim with ease. He was also pretty active on the defensive end with his two steals. 17 points and eight assists was huge for the Pelicans tonight.
— Eric Gordon is fun. I’ll say that. His game is below the rim these days, but he’s so good offensively. My favorite thing about Gordon is that he offers someone who can hit a handful of threes, as well as someone who can take the ball off the pick and roll and do something with it, whether it’s making the next smart pass or hitting mid-range jumpers. He’s overpaid, but he’s good.
— Let’s get a #fullsquad going, basketball gods. I like the idea of this team. Wolters/Holiday as the point guards, Evans/Pondexter/Gordon on the wings and Davis/Anderson/Asik/Alexis as your big men. I’m hoping that Ryan and Jrue get healthy as soon as possible, allowing the Pelicans to get, say, 18-25 games of this team together and running.