With the NCAA tournament reaching new levels of unpredictability, sometimes it’s nice to have a constant in life. In this case it’s New Orleans Pelicans, once again, getting the best of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Pelicans completed the season sweep of Minnesota Sunday night in the Smoothie King Center with a 123-109 win. It didn’t look promising for New Orleans at the end of the first half, as they went into the locker room trailing Minnesota 54-48, but the Pelicans offense came alive in spectacular fashion in the third quarter.
New Orleans shot 71 percent in the third quarter. The 40 points scored in the third doubled their output in the second quarter and nearly equaled the amount of points the team scored in the first half. Minnesota wouldn’t go away, however. The T’Wolves got within three in the fourth, but Jrue Holiday hit a turnaround jumper that sparked a 12-0 knockout run by the Pelicans.
Anthony Davis was stellar yet again with 28 points and 12 rebounds. His fellow Kentucky teammate DeMarcus Cousins had a quieter night with 15 points and 11 rebounds but he added four assists and three steals. The two Kentucky big men got the better of Minnesota’s Big Blue product Karl-Anthony Towns . Towns led all players with 33 points and even hit on four of his eight three point attempts. Davis may not have outscored last year’s Rookie of the Year, but he improves his career record against Towns to 5-0.
After his 30-point explosion Friday night against the Rockets, Solomon Hill came back to Earth but still posted an efficient 13 points on 4-8 shooting from the floor. Hill also added five rebounds, five assists and three steals. Jrue Holiday was second only to Davis in points scored with 21 and had seven assists. Hill and Holiday combined to hit on six of eleven three point attempts. And Tim Frazier, getting a rare start, dished out eight assists (with no turnovers!) in 23 minutes.
The ever-changing Pelicans bench combined to score 43 points, 36 coming from E’Twaun Moore and Jordan Crawford. “Instant Grits” as Crawford is affectionately referred to by DeMarcus Cousins exploded for 22 points in only 21 minutes. Crawford hit on nine of his 13 shots and dropped four bombs from three point land.
For Minnesota, the plot more or less followed the same script the last time the two teams played in New Orleans: the scoring came largely from Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Shabazz Muhammad. Towns had his aforementioned 33 points and Wiggins was right behind him with 25. Muhammad, once again, got essentially no help from his fellow reserve players and scored 20 of the T’Wolves 26 bench points.
Don’t look now but the Pelicans have now won four games out of their last five. The Pelicans are still four and a half games behind the Nuggets, and they still have to pass both Dallas and Portland, but New Orleans still gets to play Denver three times before the season comes to a close.
Maybe this recent hot streak the Pelicans are on is a sign that they’re figuring things out. It wasn’t DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis that was the problem, it was the lack of support surrounding them. But if Jrue Holiday, Solomon Hill, E’Twaun Moore and Jordan Crawford can continue being threats from the perimeter, New Orleans might be able to creep into the playoffs yet.