If one was to hazard a rough guess in hindsight, the Pelicans gameplan for the Timberwolves appeared to consist of making every shot.
Whether true or not, it proved to be an effective one. New Orleans rolled into town and all over their Minnesota opponent by a 122-106 margin as hot shooting throughout was the common theme of the night.
In case you didn’t know, the road hasn’t been kind to the New Orleans Pelicans this season. The Pelicans were 6-18 away from the Smoothie King Center coming into Friday’s game and starting this four-game road trip with a win was imperative if the playoffs are still something possible to strive for.
So, imagine my surprise to see New Orleans end the first quarter shooting close to 70 percent. Shooting at that high of a percentage is, of course, unsustainable and it took a modest dip all the way down to... 60 percent for the night. It’s cliche to say that Friday was just New Orleans night, but the Pelicans were hitting everything tonight.
The starters (Davis, Cunningham, Hill, Hield and Holiday), combined for 103 points and hit 63 percent of their shots. That’ll win you many, many games. Solomon Hill was the lone starter who didn’t score at least 10 points and he more than compensated with seven points, seven assists and six rebounds. If that’s the worst line from your starter, you’ll be alright.
Of course, Anthony Davis having yet another phenomenal game is a good way to ensure a win, too. Davis got to work early and finished with 42 points and 13 rebounds. At one point Davis was 10-11 from the floor.
24 points for Anthony Davis on 10-11. Keep shooting AD! pic.twitter.com/hDcA0rffmQ— The Bird Writes (@thebirdwrites) February 11, 2017
Davis one-upped his Kentucky counterpart Karl-Anthony Towns in the statsheet and got the win. Davis, who has yet to lose to the reigning Rookie of the Year, also recorded his 750th career block, making him the fifth-youngest player to reach that milestone.*
While Anthony Davis was making history and devouring worlds, Jrue Holiday and Buddy Hield were also getting work done in a most efficient manner. Holiday had 25 points and it only took him 14 shots to get there. He also added 12 assists, six rebounds and five steals. He also also had nine turnovers which sounds alarming, but come on, he’s only human so that’s like super humble of him to have that many — it’s like he’s saying “yeah I had an awesome night but I could always be better.” Wow, RT if you’re inspired.
Buddy Hield, on the other hand, made his presence known a little later on in the game, but it’s like what Julie Andrews said in Princess Diaries 2: Rules of Engagement: “A queen is never late, everybody else is simply early.” Hield started with only one basket to his name, but once he came out of halftime he really took off. Hield scored 15 of his 17 points in the third quarter, hitting six of the eight shot attempts.
Buddy's starting to feel it, y'all. He's got 15 points. Keep eating, Buddy! pic.twitter.com/UIKu6ZN7LA— The Bird Writes (@thebirdwrites) February 11, 2017
(I know what you’re thinking “yo top of the line basketball analysis AND a flawless Princess Diaries 2 reference who is this guy?” I’m just me, man. I am the Lenny Bruce of basketball and Disney movie references.)
Defensively, the Pelicans were hardly stout, but they improved as the game went along. New Orleans allowed 40 points in the first quarter, but Minnesota scored less and less points over the remaining three frames (25, 24 and 17). Like New Orleans, Minnesota had a trio of strong performances from Towns (36 points), Andrew Wiggins (29 points) and Ricky Rubio (15 points), but not much from the rest of their squad. The statistically worst bench in the league lived up to their billing again, combining for only nine points; Shabazz Muhammad was the only Minnesota bench player to score more than two points.
Would New Orleans have won if they played a deeper team? Impossible to say, but they beat who was standing on the court opposite them and that’s really all that matters. What is important is that New Orleans did something they haven’t done much this season: win on the road. That was only their seventh win away from New Orleans and the Pelicans have three more away games before coming home to the Smoothie King Center following All-Star weekend.
Next up for New Orleans are the Sacramento Kings, one of the four teams between the Pelicans and the 8th seed, on Sunday night. If the postseason is to remain a legitimate goal, beating Sacramento on the road will be another must win for New Orleans.