It's starting to feel like things are looking up for the Pelicans. New Orleans picked up not one but two wins over the weekend and improved their record to 3-11. Hey did somebody say 311???
For the first time all season the Pelicans are starting to look like the team we expected to see coming into this season: an offensive dynamo that's improving slowly but surely defensively thanks to Darren Erman's wizardry. Speaking of the team starting to resemble expectations, Tyreke Evans won't be listed as "OUT" for the first time this season on the injury report. While still considered doubtful, it's a sign that Evans shall be making his return to the floor in the very near future.
Opposing the Pelicans will be the Phoenix Suns, a team that New Orleans beat 122-116 Sunday night in the Smoothie King Center. The game was one of Anthony Davis' best of the season. His performance was something out of a Wilt Chamberlin wet dream: 32 points, 19 rebounds and 4 blocks. Davis made 11 of his 22 field goals, and knocked down nine of 11 free throws. Davis also got nothing but net on a three point shot with just under a minute in regulation to break a 109-109 tie.
This big three-pointer by Anthony Davis helped the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Phoenix Suns! https://t.co/csSg2ClBm2— The Bird Writes (@thebirdwrites) November 23, 2015
It would be remiss to not mention the other big nights the Pelican supporting cast had. Ryan Anderson seemingly couldn't miss and chipped in 29 points off the bench, while Ish Smith had a near triple-double in relief of Jrue Holiday with 17 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists. I must reiterate the fact that Ish had nine rebounds people! It speaks to how spectacularly Anderson and Smith played that Eric Gordon's 20 point night is a mere afterthought.
Keys to Victory
1. Protect the Three Point Line - As a team, Phoenix is terrifying because they take a ton of threes every single game (seventh in attempts with 26.1) and they make a lot of them (third in percentage at 39.1 percent). At the Smoothie King Center Sunday night the Suns hit 17 of their 36 three point shots (though if only they could've shot and missed two more that way they would've been 17-38 and we all could have had a good chuckle). Take Kanye's advice and don't let them get into their zone.
2. Guard Play - Hey promise you won't tell anybody, but Phoenix's backcourt combination of Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight is one of the better ones in the league. They torched New Orleans for 48 points Sunday night. While everyone loves the Splash Brothers and the unofficially nickname-less John Wall-Bradley Beal tandem (though House of Guards is terrific, why haven't we made this official yet?) people sort of forget about what Phoenix has going for them. The two are like Kourtney Kardashian or the other Baldwin Brothers not named Alec or Stephen that at one time were relevant. For the year, Bledsoe and Gordon combine for about 44 points and 10 assists, while shooting at a 46/40/83 percent clip. Who wouldn't want that from their backcourt? Know what Bledsoe and Knight need to become more prominent? A nickname. I've got Suns of Anarchy what do y'all think?
3. I Wanna Go Fast - Phoenix is first in the league in pace, seventh in offensive rating and third in points. Generating offense isn't an issue for them. It's going to be imperative that New Orleans keep up with the Suns because if not they could get run off the floor. Fortunately the team should be plenty rested as they've had the last two days off. The only player excluded from the going fast mandate is Tyreke Evans if he's available. Move at a pace that's comfortable for you, Reke. Don't push yourself too much in your first game back.
What: New Orleans Pelicans at Phoenix Suns
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena
When: November 25th, 8:00 PM
How: Fox Sports New Orleans, WRNO 99.5 FM (Radio)
Enemy Data: Bright Side of the Sun