After missing 41 straight games, the Pelicans announced a few hours before tip-off that Jrue Holiday would be making his return tonight.
The @PelicansNBA will limit Jrue Holiday's minutes to no more than 15 per game for rest of season. He's still in pain, but it's not extreme.— Jennifer Hale (@JenHale504) April 10, 2015
For just the 13th time this season, New Orleans had their core group together in the same game. It's really just rinse and repeat after last season, but what can one do? At least, injuries haven't brought this season to a premature close just yet.
So, of course Anthony Davis would have to leave the game 80 seconds after Holiday had entered!
Look at that. Gods are unhappy all the Pelicans are able. Hopefully, Anthony Davis will be ok and shakes off that shot to the adam's apple.— The Bird Writes (@thebirdwrites) April 11, 2015
After halftime, Joel Meyers announced Davis was questionable to return. FML.
At the start of the fourth quarter, AD was back on the floor! It seems that only in New Orleans can something do a 180 on you when you least expect it!
Another game, another Quincy Pondexter three-pointer to kick off the start. However, after that, the Suns outscored the Pelicans 14-8, forcing Monty Williams to call a timeout thanks to a bunch of indifferent play: a few bobbles by Omer Asik, a lot of mindless dribbling and plenty of soft interior defense.
Right out of the timeout, Monty drew up a nice play that fetched Anthony Davis an And-1. New Orleans would go on a 8-2 run. Right before the end of the first quarter, Holiday made his first appearence in 41 games and had a nice dime to AD seconds later. Thus, wouldn't you know it that during the first possession of the 2nd quarter, Davis would take a shot to the throat area and have to leave the game for the locker room?
Regardless though, Holiday's presence paid immediate dividends as the team's flow was better on both ends of the floor. At one point, the Pelicans lead grew to as large as 11 points. The Pelicans lead would waver between this mark and no less than 6, but waiting for news regarding the status of Davis was predominantly on everyone's mind.
The Pelicans went into halftime with a 47-41 lead, yet there was no information regarding Anthony Davis. Concern turned into significant anxiety.
I'm at a about a DEFCON 3 regarding AD. No way an innocent enough foul takes this long to diagnosis. Not even for our medical staff.— The Bird Writes (@thebirdwrites) April 11, 2015
Once the negative news arrived before the start of the 2nd half, it was not surprisingly to see the Pelicans start slowly. The Suns closed the gap to just a single point, but hey, before all despair was able to set in, New Orleans finally started knocking down shots, even Ryan Anderson from deep.
Then, to add to the happiness of a 10 point lead at the start of the 4th quarter, Anthony Davis returned!
The @PelicansNBA Anthony Davis can breathe and swallow now normally. He was able to drink a glass of water. He's returning to the court.— Jennifer Hale (@JenHale504) April 11, 2015
With the Suns reserves having to face Holiday and Davis, it wasn't a surprise to see the Pelicans build on their lead. Even when the offense wasn't clicking, the defense was rather impressive. All night, the Pelicans were active, getting their hands on a number of balls. 8 different players combined for 13 blocks! Overall, the Suns would shoot 35.3% from the floor.
- Jrue Holiday's first game back was promising. He made only 1-7 from the floor but it was obvious his timing was off. It was everything else that he did on the floor that should have everyone excited. His +14 +/- in 16 minutes spoke volumes about how he improved the flow of the offense, and defensively, he was able to deter the Suns' quick guards from easy drives into the lane.
- In 23 minutes of action, Anthony Davis finished with 19 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 block/steal. The bigger takeaway is that he was able to finish the game. Fox Sports New Orleans reported that if he would have had any issues on the floor, he was going to be immediately removed from the game. Hopefully, there won't be any issues going forward with his throat contusion.
- Omer Asik was a rebounding machine! He had 18 boards in 22 minutes of action. It's a good thing because otherwise fans would be hating on him for all the bobbles and another missed dunk he had in the game.
- Ryan Anderson found paydirt for the first time in two games, but sadly, that would be the only shot he'd make on the night. For the month, he has converted on just 15 of his 54 attempts (27.8%). He has to break out of this funk eventually right? I hope so because I fear it may become contagious at some point. Heck, who would have ever guessed Quincy Pondexter would be capable of missing 6 shots on 7 attempts before tonight's game???
- As cold as several Pelicans were shooting the ball, Norris Cole, Alexis Ajinca and Dante Cunningham more than made up for it; they combined to make 14 of their 18 looks. In addition, they notched 15 rebounds and 6 blocks. They were awesome!
- As I mentioned in today's Birdfeed, the Pelicans have missed an abnormal amount of free throws of late. Unfortunately, that trend continued against the Suns: 11-19 (57.9%). For a team that was in the top half of the league in free throw percentage less than 10 games ago, it's troubling that this sudden incompetence could conceivably hurt New Orleans in any of their remaining three games.
The Pelicans will travel to Houston to face the Rockets this Sunday. It will be the first game of the season's final back-to-back as they'll then travel to Minnesota to face the Timberwolves Monday. It'll be a tall order for a team that has won both games of a back-to-back just twice in nineteen tries, but considering the stakes, we can't put it past New Orleans that they might have one more surprise in store for us before the regular season comes to a close.