“Not so frustrated anymore.”
Joel Meyers’ calls on Fox Sports New Orleans always seemingly ring true, and in the final seconds of the New Orleans Pelicans matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks when victory was all but assured, he wasn’t wrong yet again.
With 10:21 to go in the game, the Pelicans trailed 94-87 after allowing the Bucks to go on a 9-0 run to start the fourth. By the time the final buzzer sounded, New Orleans sat atop Milwaukee by a final score of 115-108.
Following the victory, Anthony Davis pointed to the defense: “We started getting stops.” It’s hard to argue. New Orleans finished the game on a 28-14 to snatch another victory from the jaws of defeat.
Recently, the Pelicans have made it a habit of giving opponents a lot of easy points and Wednesday’s matchup was no different. At halftime, Giannis Antetokounmpo had 21 points on numerous good looks inside the paint, and as a team, the Bucks scored 21 points off of 11 Pelicans turnovers and 13 second chance points off eight offensive rebounds.
Despite handing the Bucks advantage after advantage throughout the game, the Pelicans were able to rally in the fourth quarter and walk away with their 15th win of the season because they simply stopped bleeding easy points. In that final frame, New Orleans gave up just two second chance points and one point off of turnovers. In addition, they outscored the Bucks 18-8 in the paint after entering the last quarter of play with a 42-36 disadvantage.
It wasn’t pretty, and at times it was downright discouraging — how about that finish to the first half where DeMarcus Cousins not only turned the ball over on New Orleans final possession but also fouled John Henson in frustration to give the Bucks two points right before intermission, yet New Orleans got their act together when winning time beckoned.
“I just thought we continued to play, continued to play,” said Head Coach Alvin Gentry. “I thought our defense picked up, really about the last nine minutes of the game. I thought we defended them about as best as we could and then we got some bad bounces. A lot of times we had deflections or things where we could have come up with a steal or even a rebound, just had a lot of bad bounces. I kept saying to the guys we’ve just got to keep playing.”
And keep playing they did. During that final 10:21, Milwaukee made just 5 of 19 shots, including one lone three-pointer on nine attempts. Meanwhile, New Orleans shot 12-18 from the floor of which 11 of the scores came off assists. Anthony Davis and Cousins combined for 17 points, and Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore chipped in another nine points to mark the total team effort in the come from behind victory.
- E’Twaun Moore continues to sparkle in the month of December. The starting small forward scored 21 points on just 11 shots, buoyed by another fine performance from the three-point line (4 of 6).
- Anthony Davis finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and the team best +/- of the night. Although the Pelicans had wanted to limit him to 30 minutes, he was on the floor for an additional six minutes. Can’t argue with the results as long as that troublesome abductor muscle isn’t flaring up again.
- DeMarcus Cousins totaled 26 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists, but his nine turnovers loomed large. However, he owned up them in postgame comments: "I'm the main culprit of that. It just shows how good we could be if we just cut down half our turnovers. We have to take care of the ball better, make better decisions. I definitely have to make better decisions with the ball.”
- After scoring 27 points or more in four of the last five games, Jrue Holiday settled for 16 points on 14 shot attempts, yet he was the leading scorer after halftime with 13 points. If 16 points, eight assists and a couple of threes is now considered an off night, woo hoo!
- Rajon Rondo appeared in just 18 minutes as Jameer Nelson played 30 minutes. The two point guards combined for 10 points, 10 assists, four steals and a couple of threes.
- Darius Miller added another three triples to his season total, going 3-5, but his four assists in 23 minutes were just as impressive.
- The Pelicans finished with 13 made three-pointers on 25 attempts, marking the 10th straight game New Orleans has finished in double figures in makes from beyond the arc — a franchise best.
- New Orleans finished with 35 assists, a new season high.
Up next, the Pelicans play Friday in Denver against the Nuggets. In their last matchup in the Mile High City, the Nuggets embarrassed the Pelicans 146-114. After missing seven straight games, Nikola Jokic was deemed available to play against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, but he was held out by Head Coach Mike Malone. No doubt we should expect to see the Joker in a few days time.