This contest marks the Pelicans fifth win in their last six games, and they’ve cut their deficit in the playoff standings from a full six games down to three and a half in about a week’s time. However, considering 11 games remain on the schedule, they'll need to continue piling up wins to stay in the hunt.
The game didn't get off to a very good start for New Orleans. Anthony Davis and company shot 29% from the field in the first half, adding in 8 turnovers for good measure.
One probable reason for the early offensive struggles was due to Anthony Davis feeling under the weather. Indeed, the Brow missed several easy layups and definitely looked bit lethargic in the opening frame.
Not wanting to feel left out, Jrue Holiday was a frigid 2-10 from the floor with only one assist. The team as a whole combined for just 3-12 shooting from behind the three-point line.
The lone bright spot was DeMarcus "BOOOOOGIE" Cousins as the big man poured in 16 points and grabbed eight boards. Cousins shook off last games 1-5 performance from three to make two of three.
Despite the really sluggish start, New Orleans grinded it's way back into the game in the second quarter to reduce a double- digit deficit to a 41-34 halftime deficit.
Better Late Than Never
After watching the slugfest in the first half, many assumed more of the same in the second. Instead, fans at the Smoothie King Center were served up some of the best offensive basketball of the season. New Orleans shot a blistering 50% from the field and reduced the turnovers, committing a paltry four.
The main story, of course, was "Boogie & The Brow.” The two All-Stars combined for 40 second half points, shooting 70% (Davis) and 60% (Cousins) respectively. These two were simply brilliant (more on that below), and it appears they are beginning to understand how to play together and even how to play against different opponents. I know everyone wants the pick but the franchise’s two cornerstone players developing chemistry is a nice consolation prize.
As for the rest of the flock, it was a rather mixed collective performance. The defense was good, but on the other side of the floor.... meh. Holiday finished with 11 points and six assists; Solomon Hill crashed back to earth and E’Twaun Moore never got rolling. In fact, the law firm of Hill, Moore, and Tim Frazier combined for only 14 points.
Thankfully, though, they all remained aggressive and confident on both ends of the court because this group will be key to whatever dwindling chances New Orleans has at still finding the postseason. Despite the lack luster output from the role players, the Pelicans pulled away from Memphis in the second half to secure a 95-82 win because Cousins was a beast for which Marc Gasol had no answer!
41 points, 17 rebounds, fie threes and a combined five steals/blocks?? Be still my beating heart!!! Also, I guess this makes all those who have already begun to turn on the Cousins era in New Orleans look a bit foolish.
New Orleans hits the road for a Friday night matchup with the hated Houston Rockets. If the Pelicans can beat the Western Conference contender for a second time in seven days, they'll start putting real pressure on the teams ahead of them in the playoff standings.
Check back with The Bird Writes for the Pelicans vs Rockets game preview. Also come back regularly for all the goings on in Pelican Nation.