The New Orleans Pelicans gave fans a welcome Christmas present in a 2016-17 season that can only be wholly described as a lump of coal thus far.
The Pelicans defeated the Dallas Mavericks, 111-104, in a battle of the NBA's tallest midgets, yet these games are the ones you have to have over the course of a season. The home team can ill afford to lose to a sub .500 team on their home floor, and the Pels came up with the necessary team effort.
Anthony Davis had his usual hyper-efficient game. Rick Carisle did a great job of throwing multiple defensive looks at Davis, but the All-Star big man still poured in 28 points (ON 14 SHOTS!), 16 rebounds to go along with 2 blocks.
Bench Warming Up
The biggest difference in the game was the play of the bench. New Orleans’ reserves outscored Dallas by a small margin of 41- 36, but the timely makes were everything. Langston Galloway was on fire tonight. He scored 17 points including knocking down all 5 of his three-point attempts. Galloway has been, well, really good lately and the Pels will need that to continue if they have any chance of getting back into the playoff hunt (LOL?).
Not to be outdone, E'Twaun Moore chipped in 16 points on 7-10 shooting. It's encouraging to see some of the teams free agents contributing on par with what was expected when they inked their deals. Now if they can give some of that juice they’re drinking to Solomon Hill, then we'd be in business.
Buddy Hield had another solid performance and is starting to become a player the team can rely on for 10 to 15 points a night. Mr. Buckets scored 14 points, sinking 6 of his 8 field goals and knocking down 2-4 from downtown. Hield only had 2 rebounds, but was under the basket several times and had rebounds stolen by Davis. Still, it's nice to see a SG giving effort to help the team improve it's rebounding.
Chieck Diallo, unfortunately, did not play as Alvin Gentry continues to show zero interest in giving the rookie big any developmental minutes. (At least he didn’t play either Omer Asik or Alexis Ajinca?) My assumption is the head coach won't give Diallo minutes until its clear that they have zero mathematical chance of making the playoffs. If he were being truthful with himself, he'd admit that the team has already crossed that boundary. But hey, what do I know.
The Pelicans impressed me with their ability to close the game out. The team has been shaky at best down the stretch of games this season. However, the team made several timely baskets tonight and got in the penalty early. Anthony Davis came up big scoring 9 of his 28 points in the fourth, drawing several fouls to get the team easy points in the final frame.
I would normally say this display gives some hope that they are starting to figure out how to close games, but this effort came against one of the worst teams in the association so we should probably take this performance with a grain of salt. The Pelicans have lost more than their fair share of close games this season, but it’s good to see them not blow this one, which admittedly I fully expected them to do.
One-time NOLA star Chris Paul and the rest of the L.A. Clippers make their way into the Smoothie King Center this Wednesday night. The Pelicans are currently 8-10 at home and are looking to draw themselves one game closer to .500 in the friendly confines.
Hope everyone is having a great holiday season. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!