The roller coaster with Davis in tow reached a new level of hilarity as the Pelicans led by double-digits throughout with the Brow looking on from the bench due to ‘rest purposes.’ This much deserved night off was earned by his 25 minutes of action in the previous week of NBA action in two games (All-Star, Pacers).
In fact, our very own David Grubb revealed that Anthony Davis has been actively hurting the Pelicans in the past five games. Davis’ 111 Defensive Rating is third-to-last on the entire roster trailing just Jahlil Okafor and E’Twaun Moore during that time, and his -3.2 net rating doesn’t top the Pelicans five most positive players (Holiday - Payton - Clark - Miller - Diallo).
Those following New Orleans closely have not missed this crucial detail.
Anthony Davis didn’t play in the 4th quarter vs the 76ers... the Pelicans spread his 21 minutes out over the first 3 quarters. No doubt Nola’s energy & execution improved drastically in the 4th without AD on the court.— Jennifer Hale (@JenHale504) February 26, 2019
This is just an opinion...Pelicans players are not saying this.— Scott Kushner (@ScottDKushner) February 26, 2019
But it sure as hell seems like this team more engaged in games when Anthony Davis doesn't play, dating back to mid-January. And it would make sense if that's the common denominator in the inconsistent effort.
The Lakers’ performance aptly summarizes life with and without Davis at the helm, but also diminishes just how bad the Lakers have been.
In the past 13 games without Lonzo Ball, the Lakers have gone just 4-9 with a -16.8 margin of deficit, with losses to these Pelicans, the Hawks and the Grizzlies as well as a collective 65-point thrashing by the 76ers and Pacers. The 132-94 victory by the Pacers was the most lopsided defeat in Lakers’ history.
“At this point, if you’re still allowing distractions to affect the way you play, this is the wrong franchise to be a part of and you should just come in and be like, ‘Listen, I can’t do this,’ “ James said. “Seriously, if you’re distracted by playoff pushes ...”
James made these comments just minutes after yet another devastating loss to their postseason hopes, this time at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies. In that game, James’ impressive stat line masked his inefficiency (34.8% shooting), five turnovers and lackadaisical defense.
Before that, 2 Chainz instagram account revealed that Lebron was in the recording studio the night before sitting out against Golden State due to “load management” purposes.
LeBron said after tonight's game that losing the 1st home game of the yr, to Houston, was just as hard on him as losing tonight. Yet he admitted the other day he was going to "activate" into playoff mode early, indicating he doesn't play as hard early in season. Huh???— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) February 24, 2019
“It’s how you approach the game every day,” Lebron continued. “It’s how you think the game every day. It’s how you play the game. It’s how you prepare for the game, and that’s not even like, when you get to the arena. That’s like way before that. Is basketball, is that the most important thing while we’re doing this? Is this the most important thing in your life at this time? Are you giving it all to that game?”
NBA Twitter had evidently had enough of Lebron’s unabashed finger pointing of his teammates, locking into him on the defensive end of the floor against Memphis:
I just wanna know what LeBron James was thinking on defense during this Lakers / Grizzlies game pic.twitter.com/6gadl2AWrx— kingtisemedia (@kingtisemedia) February 26, 2019
So, as Anthony Davis suits up to face the Lakers in the Staples Center, the immoveable object meets the unstoppable force.
Can the Pelicans earn a victory with Davis in the lineup and further diminish any chances of a Lakers’ postseason berth? Or, will Rich Paul whisper some game saving bits of advice into Davis’ ear leading to much more of this.....?
Pelicans power trust meeting outside the locker room, with Gayle Benson, Dennis Lauscha, Danny Ferry and Alvin Gentry chatting after the 111-110 defeat.— Scott Kushner (@ScottDKushner) February 26, 2019
Lost in all of this, has been the exceptional play of Jrue Holiday. The most underrated guard in the league has been asked to carry more responsibility, and he has done it with the best ball security of his career. Holiday’s 26.8% usage rate is his highest since November of 2017, and his 7.1 TOV ratio is the lowest since November of 2014!
His shooting has taken a dip during this time, falling to 42.8% in 10 games this month, but his +14.3 per 100 possessions continues to lead the entire team, easily bettering Davis’ second-best mark of +8.2.
Can Jrue and his Krewe do enough in the fourth to add to clamoring jeers in Los Angeles?
In the past three games, Cheick Diallo is averaging:— Preston Ellis (@PrestonEllis) February 26, 2019
14 points, 11 rebounds, 1.3 blocks. 1 steal and a +15.1 net rating (91 DRtg!!!) on 89% shooting in just 21 minutes per game.
For reference, Jrue Holiday's net rating is +4.5. Diallo has really been impressive.
For more on this matchup, check out Grubb’s in-depth preview from last Saturday.
Pelicans: Payton - Jrue - Kenrich - Randle - Davis
Lakers: Ingram - Bullock - James - Kuzma - McGee
Where To Watch/Listen
What: New Orleans Pelicans (27-35) at Los Angeles Lakers (29-31)
Where: Los Angeles, CA, Staples Center
When: Wednesday, February 27, 2019. 9:30 PM CST
How: FSNO, ESPN, 99.5 FM WRNO