After the recent home losses, by way of the Wizards and Jazz, an offensive onslaught on both sides ends up in the favor of New Orleans. If you’re a fan of defense, this was not a game for you, as a halftime score of 72-65 would indicated. Even so, the Pelicans found the help it had been needing.
Jrue Holiday, who had shot 9-for-27 over the previous two games, returned to the late game heroics that many had become accustomed to. In the loss to Utah on Sunday, any help carrying the load fell by the wayside for New Orleans. But with 2:40 left against Charlotte, it was Holiday who gave the offense a jolt. He scored 10 points in that final span alone, finishing with 25 points, nine assists and six rebounds on the night.
Anthony Davis had another MVP-caliber performance with 31 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots, but was quick to credit guard Rajon Rondo for helping the Pelicans revitalize the team’s fast paced offense. Rondo notched 12 points and 17 assists against the Hornets and played with an aggressive pace that opened the game for everyone — especially Holiday.
“Rondo likes to push the ball,” said Davis. “We need everyone to run the floor, and that starts with me. It’s about running with Rondo. Jrue’s able to get out and create for himself, but [Rondo] does a great job kicking it ahead to anyone. Whether it’s Jrue, E’Twaun [Moore], Ian [Clark] – he’s one of those guard who wants to get the ball and get the offense going.”
Head Coach Alvin Gentry was also pleased with the improved pace at home, but did not enjoy the Pelicans allowing leads to dwindle due to a loss of focus and poor possessions.
“I thought we started out with great pace,” said Gentry. “If there was any negative tonight, I thought that once we got up 10 points or so we always seemed to have a couple of bad possessions. Instead of being able to extend the lead, it goes to a tie game. Those are the times you’ve got to be able to create separation. You’ve got to be able to execute and do all of the things that you did in order to get that 10-point lead.”
Ultimately, the Pelicans had seven players finish with double figures in the win: Davis (31), Holiday (25), Emeka Okafor (14), E’Twaun Moore (14), Rondo (12), Ian Clark (12) and Nikola Mirotic (11).
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the game was the battle between Okafor and Dwight Howard in the post. The top two picks from the 2004 NBA Draft had fans turning back the clock as they each went after one another.
Dwight Howard on facing fellow 2004 top pick Emeka Okafor: "When we are on the floor, it’s a lot of trash talking and pushing and shoving, but it is all love. I’m glad to see him back in the NBA and healthy again... we like to battle and that is how it's going to be every time"— Jim Eichenhofer (@Jim_Eichenhofer) March 14, 2018
Although, Howard finished with the stronger line (22 points, 11 rebounds), Okafor walked away with the win.
New Orleans will return to action Thursday, on the road, taking on the San Antonio Spurs. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.