The New Orleans Pelicans move to 5-15 with a 114-108 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in overtime. LeBron James brought the Cavaliers back from a double-digit lead, scoring 23 points in the fourth quarter and pushing the game into overtime. James finished with 37 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. Anthony Davis led the Pelicans with 31 points, 12 rebounds and four steals. With the victory, the Pelicans have snapped their four-game losing streak.
LeBron James took over the fourth quarter and made the Pelicans work a bit harder for the victory, but this win, like the loss against Memphis earlier in the week, showed that New Orleans is turning a corner. The Memphis game was offensively, much in part to the return of Tyreke Evans manning the point guard position. Tonight, the Pelicans defense looked much better.
The third quarter was obviously the highlight. However, I thought New Orleans' defense began to percolate in the first quarter. After a barrage from J.R. Smith from beyond the arc, the Pelicans survived a 6-6 start from Cleveland, holding them to 3-11 shooting the rest of the quarter.
The defense was humming in the third with Ryan Anderson on the floor at the four and Anthony Davis at the five. The perimeter defense was creating turnovers left and right, Cleveland struggled to create much anywhere on the floor. Even at the rim, the Pelicans were able to stifle New Orleans at the rim, going 2-6 in the quarter. This allowed New Orleans to extend the league to double digits in the third and it seemed like New Orleans was going to sleep walk to victory.
Then, that LeBron guy took over.
Things got hectic for New Orleans at this point. The defense broke down, shots weren't falling and LeBron began to go to the rim. He put his head down and attacked. Outside of a Matthew Dellavedova three early in the comeback, it was mostly LeBron attacking the basket and getting good looks - sans a clean jumper over Omer Asik in an isolation play.
The Pelicans bounced back and Jrue Holiday's game-tying three sent it into overtime. It was there where the Pelicans took it home. Anthony Davis, who scored a basket in the fourth to give New Orleans a lead before the lead whizzed back and forth, nailed three of his four shots, including a tough turnaround hook shot to give New Orleans the lead. Cleveland tried to get Kevin Love some touches in overtime, but he couldn't bring them back and New Orleans gets the victory.
Omer Asik played some basketball. Good basketball! His statline - Six points, five rebounds, two steals and a +5 - doesn't do it justice, I thought this was Asik's best game of the season and what the Pelicans paid him for. Asik was everywhere on defense, defending the rim, stepping away from the basket and helping, New Orleans' defense played well and looked great and it coincided with a good Asik performance. If he can do that for the rest of the season, he'll be well worth the money given this offseason and New Orleans' defense will take a step in the right direction.
Dante Cunningham also had a game. Cunningham had six points, eight rebounds, three assists and a bunch of energy. Cunningham was on in help defense, blowing up catch and shoot chances and even did a nice job around the rim. I'm willing to give him a mulligan for the LeBron minutes (He allowed some drives and couldn't detract him when attempting to stop him at the rim), as LeBron went over everyone. His energy is great off the bench and when he's on, he's a nice player to have on the floor.
I'm going to look back later, but Davis and Anderson was fun. Good work offensively, working off each other - mainly Anderson using Davis as a conduit to get himself open, thanks to Cleveland making sure Davis won't beat them. Davis had a monster game after returning from injury, while Anderson - 18 points, five rebounds - was getting to the rim and nailed a couple threes.
I like Jrue and Evans together, but I'm curious to see if they continue to use him off the bench. I thought that was in play earlier in the offseason, as it would allow him to be the main ball-handler in the second unit, allows the team to control his minutes early, so he can play late. Tonight, Holiday had 11 points, seven rebounds, five assists and a +10 in 25 minutes. That'll play.
Ish Smith and Alexis Ajinca - DNP: CD. I mean, alright. I can understand Smith, but hopefully this doesn't become a trend for Ajinca. I like Ajinca.
Hey, this was a fun game. The Pelicans got after it on both sides of the ball and looked good. 5-15 and 14th in the West is a tough hole to get out of because of you have to worry about the teams ahead of you , but right now, the eighth seed in the Western Conference - the Houston Rockets - have nine wins at the moment. If Asik can repeat this performance, then his play with a returning Quincy Pondexter could help push New Orleans' defense towards the middle of the pack.
This was a good win and hopefully, the Pelicans can string a few of these games together.