And this is why I don’t call Las Vegas every afternoon.
Coming off a terrible lackluster effort for half the game in a sour loss to the Heat, the Pelicans played exceedingly well against the Hornets, winning more comfortably than the 119-109 score indicates. With 4:22 left in the game, New Orleans led by 21 points and the starters were pulled early — a big positive considering they get after it again tomorrow against the Los Angeles Clippers.
After a tightly contested first quarter, New Orleans slowly created separation the rest of the way in coasting to just their third road victory in 13 tries on the season, but Anthony Davis was the real story of tonight’s contest. He started off on fire, scoring 17 points in the first quarter as he missed but a single jumper, and finished with a commanding line of 36 points, 19 rebounds, eight assists, two steals, two blocks and two threes. He looked every bit of the most dominant player in the game and I would label this effort as one of his three finest of the season thus far.
“Tonight, I just tried to come out with a lot of energy,” said Davis to David Wesley in his postgame interview. “Just kind of impose my will on the offensive end and on the defensive end to try and just get us going. I figured if I can come out and be aggressive it opens it up for everybody else.”
Davis almost singlehandedly outscored the Hornets starting lineup (36-42), who struggled immensely. Kemba Walker, one of the best scorers in the league, managed to post only 13 points. One has to think an ankle twist in the first quarter had a profound effect as Walker only converted five of 16 shot attempts; however, we must give some credit to New Orleans defense (Hello, Jrue!) for making life hard on the All-Star point guard.
“MVP candidate so far,” said Davis. “They’re the 7th best offensive team in the league. He’s the head of the snake so we just try cut him off and make everybody else beat us.”
Mission accomplished, but there were plenty of other positives to note.
- Hats off to the reserves, especially with E’Twaun Moore being ruled out with a left tibial contusion. Julius Randle had his typical impact (13 points, nine rebounds), but Darius Miller set a season-high with 13 points and Solomon Hill tied his year’s best with 6 points — which included his first made three-pointer since October.
- Tim Frazier continues to be a positive addition to the starting lineup. He scored seven points and dished out nine assists, but his most instrumental contribution is pushing the pace to Alvin Gentry’s satisfaction.
- Jrue Holiday only accounted for two of the team’s 18 turnovers while adding 19 points, eight assists and four rebounds. Of course, he also played the biggest individual part in Kemba having a tough night!
- Nikola Mirotic posted the best +/- of the night, scored 16 points and grabbed eight boards. He only made three of ten from deep, but the ones he did knock down were all seemingly important as the Pelicans offense had some issues scoring in the previous minute or two before his makes.
- Despite 18 turnovers by the Pelicans, the Hornets failed to take full advantage, managing to turn the miscues into only 14 points. New Orleans also had the edge in fastbreak points (11-9) and on the glass (50-41).
Up next, the Pelicans face the Los Angeles Clippers tomorrow on the second night of a back-to-back but at least they’ll be inside the comfy confines of The Blender. Hope to see you there!