The Pelicans avenged an earlier December loss to the Sixers inside the Smoothie King Center with a 108-93 victory in Philadelphia on Tuesday evening. Anthony Davis led the way with 31 points, 16 rebounds and 2 blocks. Ersan Ilyasova was the top man for the 76ers with 14 points, and Joel Embiid, coming off a career-best 33-point game, added 11 points.
The story of the game was undoubtedly the reserve unit. New Orleans found themselves down 21-11 from the tip and was mired early and often by a number of ugly turnovers. However, once Tim Frazier, E’Twaun Moore, Omer Asik and Terrence Jones entered, the Pelicans really turned things around. Frazier and Moore couldn’t miss a shot and both hit double figures in scoring before halftime, directing the Pelicans to an incredible 42-21 second quarter outburst and a 13-point lead after the first half of play.
Alvin Gentry in his post-game comments mentioned, “It was a good team win from the standpoint of when we needed other guys to step up.”
Step up they did. Moore finished with 15 points in 18 minutes, Jones had 17 points and 10 rebounds — and not once looked to shoot a long range perimeter shot — and “Trip-Dub” Frazier added 10 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds. In all, the bench unit tallied 53 points. Even Dante Cunningham got in on the action late, drilling a couple of threes in the 4th quarter to finish with 9 points.
As mentioned, Davis had 31 points, but it took him 30 shots to reach that total. His outside shot was not there for most of the night, and he had to overcome a sluggish 1-8 start. Likely sparked by the bench, AD played aggressively after his initial stint, dunking on numerous Sixers and crashing the offensive glass hard repeatedly. Look out below, Jahlil Okafor!
Jrue Holiday did a nice job of setting up teammates throughout, especially to Davis on a few lobs, but he struggled with his shot yet again, making just 4 of 14 attempts and 1-4 from deep. As I wrote yesterday, he has not performed up to his standards since sustaining a turf toe injury against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but with the Pelicans season teetering on the edge of a deep chasm, don’t expect to see him get any days off for rest purposes.
Omer Asik made an appearance for the first time in several games, and although he failed to register a made field goal, his impact was much more positive than that of Alexis Ajinca. I’m sorry but the disparity in the playing time of both centers cannot be for basketball reasons. Asik continues to bring a solid defensive and rebounding presence while Ajinca usually plays a big hand in the Pelicans falling behind opponents early. The numbers are certainly not in favor of the Frenchman.
Before Gentry switched out Asik the Asik+Davis pairing had a -1.8 net rating. Ajinca+Davis since the switch? -13.6— The Bird Writes (@thebirdwrites) December 19, 2016
Buddy Hield knocked down another couple of three-pointers and scored in double-figures (10) for a 4th consecutive game, but he only managed to earn 21 minutes. As for the other Pelicans’ rookie, Cheick Diallo was a complete no show. The lack of minutes developing these two players on the court is disturbing to a lot of fans at the moment, but I get it. Mind you, I don’t necessarily like it either, but there are jobs on the line so expect this to remain the status quo until the Pelicans slip much further behind in the standings.
In somewhat of a surprising move, though, Langston Galloway registered his first DNP - coaching decision of the season. With Cunningham back in the lineup and the Frazier/Moore duo getting off to a strong start, Galloway drew the short end of the stick. And with Tyreke Evans back in the fold tomorrow, this could conceivably become the new norm.
The 108-93 win was just the 4th road win out of 15 games for New Orleans. Tomorrow they will face the Oklahoma City Thunder back in The Blender. Stay tuned for the game preview in the morning.