Since LeBron James returned to Cleveland, Tyreke Evans had never missed a game against the Cavaliers. Boy, the Pelicans could have used him. In the teams' previous three meetings, the games had been competitive throughout, and tonight was no different until the later portion of the 4th quarter. New Orleans just didn't have enough firepower, although Norris Cole did his best to fill some big shoes.
The Pelicans found themselves down right out of the gates as Anthony Davis was the only one to add anything to the scoring totals for over the first five minutes of the game. Heading into the first timeout, New Orleans was behind 17-11 as Cleveland made seven of their first ten shots, including a perfect 3-3 from three-point range.
A 10-0 run by the Pelicans before the end of the first quarter ensured they wouldn't be doubled up in the scoring column, but they still trailed by 8 points, 28-20. Davis and Jrue Holiday combined to score 13 of those 20 points, meanwhile the Cavaliers were paced by James and J.R. Smith's 17.
The second quarter continued with the same theme: the Pelicans were having trouble finding scoring outside of their big three of Davis, Holiday and Ryan Anderson while another Cavalier got hot, this time, Mo Williams. How bad was it? Alonzo Gee's first three-point attempt missed everything. His second one hit the side of the backboard. Sigh.
The Pelicans shot 1-11 from three-point range in the first half, the Cavaliers made 8 of 16. New Orleans had one lone highlight. Seriously.
⚠️ AD at work ⚠️ https://t.co/ra3nmjAT5I— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) February 7, 2016
At the start of the third quarter, Norris Cole exploded like a supernova. He made five straight shots within the first three minutes for 12 points to close the gap for the Pelicans to just six. Apparently having his number retired earlier in the day by Cleveland State University had a positive effect on his game. (Btw, congratulations Norris!) The Pelicans rode his hot-shooting to finish the frame down just 4 points to the Cavaliers, 74-70.
The final quarter started rather slowly as both teams combined for just 8 points through the first three and a half minutes. Then, LeBron and Kyrie got things rolling, and they helped expand the Cavaliers' lead to double digits with 5:31 left. With Holiday and Anderson well off the mark, the Pelicans were unable to mount a serious charge, and the game ended on a rather quiet note.
Norris Cole finished with a season-high 26 points on an efficient 19 shots. Anthony Davis posted 24 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks. He has recorded four double-doubles in the past five games. On the flip side, Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson were as cold as the outdoor temperature. They combined for 18 points on a frigid 7 for 29 from the field (24.1%).
Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 29 points, LeBron James had 27 and J.R. Smith added 20.
Stay tuned for Owen's full recap a little while later, or once you're done celebrating Mardi Gras for the evening! (Stay safe everyone.)