The New Orleans Pelicans pulled off a miraculous 19-point comeback against the New York Knicks to win in overtime, 123-118. The victory momentarily moves New Orleans into the 6th seed in the Western Conference with an overall 22-20 record.
After a rocky shooting first quarter, the Pelicans were able to find their rhythm largely off the back of the herculean effort put forth by Anthony Davis, who piled up a season-high 48 points, to go along with 17 rebounds and three blocks. Davis seemed to do it all this game. He was the only Pelican making his shots early in the game, was maniacally on the glass and then laid in the game-tying basket with three seconds remaining in the fourth to send it to extra minutes.
Anthony Davis is the 11th player to score at least 48 points on the road in Madison Square Garden, and the first since Stephen Curry (2/27/13).— Pelicans PR (@PelicansPR) January 14, 2018
The Knicks are a team the Pelicans are quite familiar with after losing to the Kristaps Porzingis-led group just several weeks ago, and it’s clear the Knicks present a unique challenge. With Enes Kanter and Porzingis, New York has two bigs that offensively match up well with the Pelicans. The Knicks duo combined for 43 points, 16 rebounds five steals and four blocks.
A player the Pelicans are less acquainted with, Tim Hardaway Jr., who had missed a large portion of the season due to injury, also showed up ready to play tonight. He scored an impressive 25 points off the New York bench.
As it seems to be the case in most of the Pelicans wins, Jrue Holiday played extremely well. Holiday logged 31 points on a cool 12-19 from the field and added five rebounds, four assists and four steals. Beyond the numbers, Holiday was a clear spark plug for the team, taking over when Davis was on the bench and playing a highly energized game on the defensive end.
This win should be an encouraging sign for New Orleans fans. Despite being down early, due to both a slow shooting start and sloppy turnovers, the Pelicans hung around all game to make a run at the lead in the fourth. Down 19 points in the third — the clear low point of the game for the Pelicans, it would have been extremely easy for New Orleans to have packed it in. Instead, the team kept it’s cool, attacked the paint through Davis and hunkered down on the defensive end, outscoring the Knicks by 14 in the final frame. Listen to Davis describe how he felt New Orleans always still had a chance to pull out the win.
Active hands on defense were a crucial aspect of the win tonight. The New Orleans Pelicans notched a season-high 17 steals which were responsible for the biggest chunk of the Knicks 24 turnovers.
Despite an off-shooting night for DeMarcus Cousins, who made just four of 16 shots for only 15 points, he was a difference maker on the defensive end. With 16 rebounds, seven steals (a career-high) and three blocks, Boogie locked down the paint during their stretch run at the end of the game.
Of course, as it seems to be a recurring theme with this Pelicans team, consistency was the largest issue. While down the stretch New Orleans displayed some stout defense, rotations were missed and players were left wide open throughout the first three quarters. On one side of the coin, we have the 14-point quarter for the Knicks in the fourth — clearly an indication of the type of lockdown defense this team possesses. On the flip side, New Orleans gave up 39 points in the third quarter.
The Pelicans are a scary team for a significant portion of most typical games where they are able to play stout defense and clean offense. Hopefully, after this close come from behind win, the team is closer to demonstrating that performance more often and for a longer period of time.
Up next, the Pelicans will face the Celtics in Boston on Tuesday evening, but Kyrie Irving and the rest of the Celtics will pose a difficult challenge. They’re 18-5 at home and currently riding a seven game winning streak.