In a game that proved to be equally as dramatic, exciting and borderline erotic as the college football national championship game, the New Orleans Pelicans held on for dear life against the Detroit Pistons in a 112-109 win.
For the Pelicans, tonight’s game was a tale of two big performances by two very big men. Anthony Davis got the action going early and often as he so regularly does against the Pistons and had 30 point and 10 rebounds through three quarters. Davis wouldn’t finish the game however, leaving the game due to a sprained right ankle.
DeMarcus Cousins had four points to his name prior to Davis’ ankle sprain and early on was visibly frustrated by a pair of fouls he picked up, going so far as to slam a water bottle on the ground. After Davis left the game, Boogie took all that pent-up frustration out on Detroit. He scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, capping off a 20-point, 10-rebound and four-assist night.
While it took Cousins some time to get going, the same could not be said for the other Pelican starters. Rajon Rondo had nine first quarter assists — a new New Orleans franchise record, and finished the night with a 12-point, 15-assist double-double. His four points down the stretch were crucial for the Pelicans to maintain their edge against Detroit.
“I thought we started the game with great energy,” said Head Coach Alvin Gentry. “I just thought that (Rajon) Rondo did a great job tonight. I really did. I thought he did a really good job of keeping the pace of the game where we want it and getting guys shots and doing a really good job in that department.”
E’Twaun Moore had a hot shooting night, hitting 11 of 14 and scoring 23 points. Jrue Holiday had a bit of a good news/bad news game: the good news was he scored 14 points, hit three three-pointers and registered a career high four blocks. The bad news is he had seven turnovers. A little bit of good, a little bit of bad, but the win cancels out the bad.
While the Pelican starters had good to great nights, the reserves were collectively awful. Five Pelican bench players combined to score 13 points and the amount of minutes played was inversely related to each player’s plus/minus. Dante Cunningham and Darius Miller got the most minutes coming off the bench and the Pelicans were a combined -33 with them on the floor.
After Jameer Nelson saw seven minutes in the first half, he sat in favor of Ian Clark in the second. Nelson has had a difficult time of producing any positive value on the court as evidenced by a -49 plus/minus over his last 20 games.
That New Orleans won by three is odd and frustrating. The Pelicans shot 56 percent from the floor to Detroit’s 44. Coming into tonight, both the Pistons and Pelicans were two of the better shooting teams from behind the three-point line, but this game was not the case as both shot less than 30 percent. The Pelicans had 68 points in the paint, and you’d have to assume that number would be bigger had Davis been able to finish the game. Davis and Cousins were able to get whatever they wanted against Detroit’s Andre Drummond and Tobias Harris, but 18 turnovers by the Pelicans helped keep the Pistons hanging around.
Drummond’s status for the game was questionable after missing Detroit’s previous game in Houston with a rib contusion, but he played and posted a typical line: 16 points and 14 rebounds.. Former Pelican and forever fan favorite Ish Smith had 16 points, six rebounds and four assists. The tandem of Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley gave New Orleans fits, as the pair combined for 49 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.
Up next, the Pelicans travel to Memphis for a game against Tyreke Evans and Grizzlies on Wednesday before returning home to face the Trail Blazers on Friday.