The New Orleans Pelicans would continue their wining ways tonight, by beating their fellow Western Conference playoff hopeful Minnesota Timberwolves.
Last night’s win is just another statement from this New Orleans Pelicans squad.
Do not give up just yet.
The Pels had their most impressive win of the season Friday, when they beat the Houston Rockets. Following that win was the Minnesota Timberwolves and fellow unicorn Karl -Anthony Towns.
The T-Wolves are jockeying with New Orleans for ping-pong balls and an 8th seed in the NBA Playoffs. With both teams fighting for position in the West, it made for an exciting contest.
As far as the actual game went, it started off fast…very fast.
New Orleans struggled to keep up with Minnesota’s tempo. What resulted was a foray of uncontested dunks by Karl-Anthony Towns. That was not all of it, though. New Orleans continually got beaten by backdoor cuts early on, resulting in a six point lead to end the quarter. However, New Orleans would find a way to turn it around.
The 3rd quarter is where the Pelicans hit their groove offensively. They were led by Jrue Holiday‘s 14 third quarter points. Once New Orleans got the lead in the second half, they would not relinquish it.
The Pelicans’ defense tightened up severely in the second half, while their role players got it going. What resulted was another game in which the Pelicans score 120+. It is amazing what this team can produce, when the stars get a little help.
Tim Frazier got the start tonight next to Jrue and it was evident why. His statistics do not tell the whole story on how he played. His 1-3 shooting numbers are poor, but Frazier dished out eight assists with no turnovers. More importantly, he looked to push the pace and get into the offensive sets early.
Jrue Holiday was excellent against the Wolves. Playing more off ball, Jrue showed a decisiveness offensively that had been missing for awhile. His jump-shot falling made the difference, but it was nice to see his aggressiveness back. The team is going to need him to score from the back-court to win, like he did tonight. Jrue finished 8-16 from the floor, including 4-5 from three, to give him 21 points. He also chipped in seven assists, which raises the question of is he better suited as an off-guard going forward.
Solomon Hill followed up his 30 point game with a very solid all-around game. He finished with 13 points, five assists and five rebounds, on top of playing great defense on Andrew Wiggins. This performance felt even sweeter than his 30 point explosion, because it seems sustainable. Hill needs to keep crashing the defensive glass. It allows him to get out and run, before the defense gets set. He did that a couple times tonight and good things happened. If Hill maintains production like tonight, then he will be worth the large contract he was given. Two consecutive good games does not erase a poor season, however, so don’t get too excited yet.
Anthony Davis continues his undefeated streak in the battle of the unicorns. Davis is now 5-0 against fellow Kentucky phenom Karl-Anthony Towns. It is evident that both of them feel a little something extra when it comes to the match-up. Davis, in particular, always seems to put on a show when playing Minnesota. Yesterday was no different. AD finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds, while shooting 11-16 from the field. The craziest thing about it is that it felt like a quiet game for A.D. Davis is making what should be jaw-dropping numbers appear normal. Absurdly good from the Pelicans superstar, who is determined to make this final playoff push.
Where things get murky is the other players willingness to push the pace and Cousins not feeling the same way. Often times, Boogie would not even cross half-court before Minny was in possession of the ball. I am not sure if it is because he isn’t in good enough shape to run or if he simply does not have the desire to. Either way, it is something that will need to be addressed, because good teams will exploit that. But overall a solid game from Cousins, who defended the rim very well in the second half. His defense forced a number of missed layups. His final line of 15 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, three steals and four turnovers is solid and showcases all the different ways he can fill up the box score. Finally, Cousins had zero free throw attempts. That may be the craziest stat of the night.
E’Twaun Moore had a solid game off the bench. It is a role that is becoming well suited for him and his herky-jerky style offense. Moore finished with 14 points on 6-11 shooting. That’s great bench production and his overall reliability is a big reason why he’s trusted on the floor at the end of games.
The Minnesota Timberwolves got served some “Instant Grits” in the 4th quarter. The man formerly known as “Steezus” had himself a night. Jordan Crawford, with his parents in the building, exploded for 11 4th quarter points, including three long range buckets. He actually started off the game slowly, but when he got hot, it was on. Crawford made some ridiculous shots, shots that in all honesty he has no business taking. But forget it, they went and sunk the heart out of the Timberwolves. The addition of Crawford has added a little bit of fun to this team. Not only is his emergence a wonderful story, but it’s cool to just watch a guy go out and say “screw it”.
Dante Cunningham played 21 minutes and it is hard to remember a single one. That’s not a knock on him good or bad. For role players nights like this happen, but the team won and we’re sure Cunningham was probably just feeling down about the Villanova loss.
Donatas Montiejunas got some burn with DeMarcus in foul trouble. Outside of a couple hook shots, it’s clear to see why he is not in the rotation. His defense is a big liability and it’s easy to truly wonder if he regrets signing with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Human Victory Cigar #2. But yay, Chieck Diallo minutes!
The New Orleans Pelicans will stay at home once again Tuesday night, as they host the Memphis Grizzlies. Tip-off is on schedule for 7:00 p.m. CST.