Well, just what in the hell was that???
The New Orleans Pelicans smoked the Houston Rockets Friday night in the Blender, beating one of the NBA’s best teams by a 128-112 margin. The Pelicans scored 36 points in the first, a season-high for the opening quarter, and Houston offered little resistance the rest of the way. The Pels led by as many as 23 but the Rox did manage to get within 11 about halfway through the 4th.
Solomon Hill was the no-doubt, A+ star of the night for the Pelicans, draining four early 3-pointers, playing good defense all over the place with position-based work and deflections, and driving with super-aggressive attacks at the basket and passing; he even made 8-of-9 free throws. Hill finished with a career-high 30 points (8-of-13, 6-9 3FG) and career-best seven assists, plus six rebounds and two steals.
In the following sequence, Hill made consecutive 3-pointers from opposite sides of the floor surrounding a Harden miss.
Hill’s bench buddies chipped in at key moments, especially early. Jrue Holiday (19 points, three rebounds, six assists, two blocks) picked up his second foul at the 7:36 mark in the 1st quarter but the offense went into overdrive with Tim Frazier at the helm. Frazier seemed quicker than anybody else on the floor and finished with 14 points, five rebounds, six assists and two steals.
Dante Cunningham (seven points, nine rebounds) had a few highlight plays, Jordan Crawford (seven points, five rebounds, three assists) wasn’t bad — I loved his in-your-face layup versus Patrick Beverley — and Alexis Ajinca (seven points, four rebounds) was involved in some sequences that must have left Houston fans incredulous. One time he even played good defense and didn’t commit a foul!
Yeah, you read that right: Alexis Ajinca made a fadeaway, one-legged, Dirk-style and-1 jumper from 17 feet. So, hey.
James Harden, the odds-on favorite for league MVP, had a huge statistical night but his impact and teammates were lacking. Still, he finished with 41 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists in his 18th triple-double of the year. I’d personally vote for Russell Westbrook, but Harden has been a-ma-zing this year for one of the league’s best teams. This might have been the quietest 41/14/11 in NBA history.
This finally gets us to Anthony Davis who mostly struggled to score in the first three quarters (11 points, 11 rebounds through 3), but still dominated the paint with rebounding and positioning all night. He finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds and held jumping-jack center Clint Capela to just six points and four rebounds. Incredibly, Houston offered Harden as AD’s primary defender for various stretches throughout the game. He did fine as a burly 6-foot-6-incher, but to me, it showed how desperate things got for the Rox.
DeMarcus Cousins missed tonight’s game:
Discussions and critcisms about pace persist, especially when Cousins comes back from injury, but tonight against a fast team, speed killed.
Worried about the future of this team? The possible coaching and/or GM changes? AD and Cuz meshing? Overpaying Jrue? Your NCAA tournament bracket is a mess? Missing out on St. Patty’s day because you’re writing a recap about a team that has no chance of making the playoffs?
WHO CARES!!! The Pels play again on Sunday, versus Minnesota this time, tipping off at 5 p.m.
Now watch this dunk over and over and remember to Geaux Pelicans!