Tonight the Pelicans did what they’ve had to do so often before: get Anthony Davis the ball and let him be great.
Anthony Davis walked out of the Smoothie King Center with 33 points and 14 rebounds to his name. He was aggressive early and often throughout the night. Davis had 16 points at the end of the first quarter and 24 by halftime. He would also have a perfect 11-11 night from the free throw line. Davis’ performance may only be a throwback to about a month ago, but there’s no denying who’s team this is.
The addition of DeMarcus Cousins hasn’t slowed down Anthony Davis at all in their three games together. Davis’ teammates, however, haven’t been able to say the same. Perhaps most disappointing has been Jrue Holiday’s play since Cousins came to New Orleans. Prior to Wednesday, Holiday had been scoring 10 points on 29 percent shooting with a PER of 3.6 and his assist to turnover ratio was nearly 1:1 (6.0 to 5.7). Finally, Holiday more closely resembled the point guard we’ve come to expect with 22 points and five assists. He still had five turnovers, but tonight was a good night.
“He (Alvin Gentry) showed some clips before the game, showing Jrue being Jrue,” Holiday said. “Don’t tell him, but that was a little motivating.”
Davis and Holiday’s excellent games risked being all for naught because of Detroit’s stellar rebounding play and New Orleans’ carelessness with the ball. While the Pistons didn’t turn the ball over once in the first half, the Pelicans had seven turnovers and it cost them 14 points. Detroit got out-rebounded 53-50 overall by New Orleans, but they was able to stay in the game thanks in large part to their 23 offensive rebounds.
Andre Drummond was an absolute beast — if one ignores his 1-10 free throw shooting performance — as he was responsible for 10 of those offensive rebounds, keeping the Pistons within striking distance. Fortunately for the Pelicans, he was thrown out of the game for flat out losing his cool.
Late in the third quarter, Drummond had a rebound swiped away by Tim Frazier. The two got tied up and Drummond shoved Frazier’s head (Frazier said Drummond “mushed” him) after the whistle was blown.
Andre Drummond ejected for messing with people who are smaller than him. pic.twitter.com/cnKQDPYgSC— Dan Favale (@danfavale) March 2, 2017
Drummond was assessed a flagrant two foul and ejected from the game. New Orleans led 73-67 at that stoppage in the game but scored five quick points immediately after Drummond was tossed and would keep the Pistons at arm’s length the rest of the night.
“I’m not going to back down from anybody,” said Frazier, who is at least 10 inches shorter than Drummond. “That’s how I was raised, and I had to fight for a lot where I am to be successful. So I’m not going to back down from anybody.”
Since acquiring Cousins, one of the biggest issues plaguing the Pelicans was a lack of contributions from the supporting cast. In Cousins’ absence, the reserves stepped up. Dante Cunningham had 16 points and mainly did his damage from three point land. Alexis Ajinca had another quality outing with 10 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks in only 19 minutes of playing time. And E’Twuan Moore chipped in 11 points off the bench.
“A lot of guys stepped up and made shots,” Davis said. “We just have to carry it over to Friday’s game when (DeMarcus Cousins) is back.”