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New Orleans Pelicans begin journey out of power ranking abyss

And a tiny bit of good news at the bottom too. Wait for it.

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

A win streak! Two games in a row now for the New Orleans Pelicans against quality competition. First was an impressive victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night thanks to Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, and Ish Smith. Those same three players again led the charge in Sunday's win over the Phoenix Suns in a shootout.

Anderson has been scorching hot and is now shooting 68% on shots classified as stepbacks, turnarounds, or fadeaways this season. As a team the Los Angeles Clippers are shooting 67.4% in the restricted area, a mark that leads the NBA. Yes, a Ryan Anderson stepback or fadeaway is more effective than a layup. Welcome to a new world.

How did national power rankers react to a 2-2 week? Well, the Pelicans aren't in the bottom of the barrel anymore!

Last Week: 29 - This Week: 26

The Pelicans' offense kicked in before their defense clamped down. They've scored 108 points per 100 possessions (and allowed 109) over their last four games (getting weekend wins over the Spurs and Suns), with Ryan Anderson averaging 28.3 points in that stretch. New Orleans has outscored its opponents by more than 19 points per 100 possessions with Anderson, Anthony Davis and Ish Smith on the floor together.


Last Week: 29 - This Week: 24

Just how banged up have the poor Pelicans been? In his first 12 games as Pels coach, before Friday night's desperately needed upset of the Spurs and Anthony Davis' weekend domination of the boards, Alvin Gentry was forced to use 11 different starting lineups. We only saw 17 different Pels starting combinations in total last season.

Sports Illustrated

Last Week: 27 - This Week: 27

Ish Smith? Yeah, that Ish Smith. The journeyman engineered consecutive wins over the Spurs and Suns, with 13 assists in one and a near triple-double in the other. The scrap-heap find might be a viable piece going forward as the Pelicans try to reboot their season.

CBS Sports

Last Week: 29 - This Week: 25

Hey, it turns out when Anthony Davis plays like a radiation-breathing mutant pterodactyl with laser eyes, the team plays a lot better. Two straight now that they have a brief stretch of health, and Tyreke Evans could be back this week. Have they dug too deep a hole to climb out of?

News of Note

I truly believe this one play is where Davis flipped the switch on the season.

Oh, and just this little bit of news.