During Anthony Davis' near 6-game absence, the Pelicans were a very balanced squad with six players averaging double figures and two more just missing the plateau. Tonight, some may consider AD was that monkey wrench, but because of his stellar play, he wasn't going to let New Orleans lose the game.
With under two minutes remaining, he nailed two long mid-range jumpers to help the Pelicans outlast the Pistons. For the game, he finished with an MVP-worthy line:
Anthony Davis: 39 pts, 13 reb & 8 blocks. Joins Hakeem Olajuwon & Dwight Howard as only players to reach those numbers in last 30 years.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 5, 2015
As I mentioned in the quick recap, a number of his teammates pulled a disappearing trick. Honestly, it's not all that surprising, though. For 6 games, the Pelicans required everyone to play up to their abilities, contributing at every opportunity. With their star back, many of Davis' teammates appeared to try and stay out of his way. For most of the game, ball movement was non-existent as the Pelicans didn't get their 10th assist until the fourth quarter. Hopefully, the Pelicans will be able to spend some time tomorrow working on these balance issues before all upcoming opponents decide to only focus on Davis.
Anthony Davis jumped right back into the swing of things by splashing his first jumper 34 seconds into the game, but unfortunately, the Pistons were the team to race out to an early lead on the strength of an 8-1 run with 6 points and 2 assists by Reggie Jackson.
After a Pelicans timeout, things failed to get better. The missed shots and turnovers continued while the Pistons ran all mistakes down New Orleans throats. A quick 12-0 fastbreak advantage early is all you need to know. However, before things got really out of hand, Davis started doing more things, namely blocking shots and cleaning up on the offensive glass on the other end.
The Pelicans strong play continued in the 2nd quarter as they ended up taking the lead before the Pistons put points on the board again. A magnificent 15 to 0 run! However, New Orleans was not able to sustain the momentum because their offense sputtered a bit again, conversely, the Pistons' Jodie Meeks got hot.
Thankfully, Anthony Davis was able to carry the Pelicans into halftime, scoring the team's final 8 points. For the half, he finished with 19 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks. The only other Pelicans to score more than 4 points was Tyreke Evans with 11.
The start of the third quarter saw more of the same -- Anthony Davis continuing to shoulder the load. He scored 10 of the Pelicans first 14 points and ended up with 12 of team's 23 in the frame.
In the fourth quarter, the Pelicans lead would go on to oscillate between 2 and 8 points all too often. As mentioned, Davis was able to come up big in the final moments of the game. However before crunchtime, Anthony Davis blocked Greg Monroe at the rim for his 7th block of the night, and more importantly, he became the franchise's all-time leader overtaking David West. New Orleans may not have a long and storied history, but for a 21 year old to be a career leader in any category is an astounding feat.
Anthony Davis on becoming NOLA career blocks leader: "It’s a blessing. In my third year, being a franchise holder in any stat is a blessing"— Jim Eichenhofer (@Jim_Eichenhofer) March 5, 2015
- Outside of Davis, Tyreke Evans was the only Pelican to post a nice statistical line: 21 points, 9 assists, 4 rebounds and 1 steal/three. He still had a shot or two that left everyone scratching their head (especially that 19 footer with 1:45 remaining in the game), but as is usually the case, you've got to take the good with the bad.
- I expect a lot of people will jump all over Omer Asik's 1-7 from the floor performance, but the Pelicans don't win this game without his rebounding and defense in the paint. Oh, and did all the naysayers notice the screen he set on AD's man in crunchtime to get Davis an easy look?
- The two remaining starters, Eric Gordon and Quincy Pondexter, combined for 8 points (on 9 shots), 2 rebounds and 2 assists in 63 minutes. I wasn't a fan of their defense neither, notably Gordon's. The Pistons average close to 14 fastbreak points a game, but tonight they had 26. 12 of them came in the first quarter as both of the Pelicans wings failed to get back in transition. Later, Jodie Meeks was able to get a ton of easy looks because Gordon screwed up his assignment. If the Pelicans want to pay someone to just stand on the court and look pretty, I'm willing to take a much smaller check than either of them.
- After getting whipped by the Mavericks in the paint in New Orleans last game, the Pelicans held their own against the size of the Pistons as each side finished with 52 points. This is particularly impressive considering the Monroe/Drummond pairing finished with 33 combined rebounds.
- The Pelicans didn't look for their three point shot tonight (12 attempts), but it's hard to complain considering they only made 2 of them.
- Anthony Davis made 17 of 30 shots (56.6%). The rest of his teammates combined to make just 20 of 60 (33.3%)
The Pelicans will host the Boston Celtics on Friday. Although they're 11 games below .500 in the Eastern Conference, the Pelicans must not take them lightly, not with Memphis laying in wait on the back end of the upcoming back-to-back. Earlier this season, the Pelicans lost in Boston. In addition, the Celtics have been playing well of late, winning 4 of their last 6 including knocking off a hot Utah Jazz club tonight.