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Straight gas: Fast-breaking Pelicans run Knicks right out of New Orleans, 104-92

The exciting identity promised on day one of the Alvin Gentry era might finally be here.

NBA: New York Knicks at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Alvin Gentry moved Anthony Davis to the starting center position on Monday against the Dallas Mavericks. The New Orleans Pelicans scored 29 fast break points (!) en route to a big win against Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. Tonight, the home team added another 30 fast break points (!!), this time in a rather comfortable victory against the Knicks.

In my quietest, high-pitched tone that my vocal cords will allow before cracking into oblivion, ‘Hey guys, the Pelicans may be onto to something here!’

When the oft-embattled head coach first arrived in the Crescent City, he promised to install a quick-hitting offense that focused on easy points and lots and lots of ball movement. Doesn’t this following play look awfully similar in style to the Golden State Warriors?

Tears of joy, amirite?

It’s taken well over 100 games to get to this point — even if it just turns out to be more of a blip than a thing — but we may be witnessing the groundwork of the desired identity right before our very eyes during what’s turning out to be a shockingly happy holiday season.

In addition to all the easy fast break points, the defense is back to stifling opponents, but this time through the exclusive use of small ball lineups. For instance, off several switches, Brandon Jennings failed to beat Dante Cunningham off the dribble and Kristaps Porzingis was unable to back down Jrue Holiday for an easy shot attempt.

Following the game, Alvin Gentry stated, “I thought we did a great job defensively. We got into Porzingis and took away some of the things he is good at.”

Spot on, coach, and speaking of Holiday...

Oh MYYYYYYYYY! Well, we can certainly say goodbye to any lingering turf toe problems after that yam by Holiday in the New York Unicorn’s baby face!

In addition to the 30-12 fast break points edge, the Pelicans outscored the Knicks 46-38 in the paint and attempted 6 more three-point shots despite a 10-2 offensive rebound disadvantage. For those who missed the game, that should signal the Pelicans executed a great offensive game plan — quite a rarity for much of this season.

As I touched on earlier, it’s too early to get carried away this recent revelation because 6 of the next 7 games will come on the road where the Pelicans are a miserable 4-11. Oh, and there’s that daunting hole the team still needs to dig itself out of...

“We still have a long way to go to get our heads above water,” said Gentry. “We did a good job and we’re starting to get there, but when you go 1-8 to start you have 7 games to make up to get to .500. So we still have a ladder to climb to get there.”

Again, spot on coach, but at least we’ve finally hit the stage we expected to see from the Pelicans last season, the players seem to be enjoying themselves immensely, and the team is surging with an apparent identity.

Game Notes

  • Anthony Davis scored 23 points and snared 18 rebounds. Two days ago, he finished with 5 rebounds in 37 minutes against DeAndre Jordan, but he topped that mark in less than 6 minutes against a none-too-shabby Joakim Noah. Noah isn’t the player he was once, but he’s still a load on the glass and AD’s fast, energetic start completely neutralized the Knicks’ starting center.
  • Tyreke Evans started out hotter than anybody, scoring 10 points in his first 5 minutes; he went on to finish the game with 16 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in 18 minutes of action. Gentry reiterated to the media that he expects Tyreke’s minutes to go up some next week as it remains all systems go with his knee.
  • Buddy Hield, E’Twaun Moore and Holiday all finished with 12 points, but they all did it differently and added other flavors as well. Buddy Buckets knocked down two more three-pointers, but I was loving his two takes to the rim that earned him free throws. This is the one part of the game that I’ve secretly feared would never improve, but a few more instances and he starts developing some consistency in the paint will be solid gold, Jerry! Moore was darting around everywhere, guarding anybody who stood before him, but his biggest play was a key late offensive rebound (the Pelicans first of the night) that allowed the crowd to exhale when the Knicks were making a run. And Holiday’s bad turnovers against the Clippers were all but forgotten as he totaled 11 assists versus just one lone turnover on the night.
  • Solomon Hill, Dante Cunningham and Terrence Jones were quieter than the rest of the bunch, but that’s a good thing. It’s preferable for this team to let them operate in the shadows rather than putting scoring pressures on any of them. Fittingly, check out this new nickname Hill and Cunningham revealed post-game.

The New Orleans Pelicans next face the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. I want to wish everyone a happy and safe New Year and Geaux Pelicans!