Pelicans handle Bulls, 107-98, to end six-game losing streak
Pelicans use defense, rebounding to end losing streak (Ken Trahan)
It is certainly a start.
The Pelicans snapped their six-game losing streak with a 107-98 win over the Bulls.
Before you take it to the bank and invest money on a championship season, consider that Chicago is a bad team (3-9) going nowhere and the Pelicans, who had a 18-point lead in the third quarter (77-59), had to fend off the Bulls late. Chicago pulled within six points at 98-92 and missed opportunities to make it closer before Jrue Holiday scored with 2:16 to play to make it an eight-point lead which held up.
Anthony Davis returned to the elite form we are accustomed to seeing and that is needed for New Orleans to be a playoff team. He scored 32 points, pulled down 15 rebounds, had seven assists and blocked four shots. Davis had struggled in his previous four games, making just 24-of-69 field goal attempts, perhaps bothered by his elbow injury.
The new Davis is the AD who says he is the best player in the league, telling Yahoo Sports that a month ago and reiterating the same claim on ESPN this week.
Jrue Holiday won the battle with his brother, Justin, scoring 17 points, pulling down 10 rebounds and dishing out nine assists. Both Davis and Holiday played 37 minutes and that will be necessary on most nights for this team to be successful.
Of course, it will help with Elfrid Payton returns.
Payton missed his sixth straight game with a sprained ankle but he is close to returning and we may see him Saturday night against Phoenix.
The two bright spots from last night’s victory were Wesley Johnson and Darius Miller.
Johnson scored a season high 12 points with four rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes in his third straight start. Johnson connected on 2-of-3 from 3-point range.
Miller scored 11 points in 19 minutes, sinking 3-of-4 from 3-point range.
New Orleans still committed 15 turnovers, which has been a real problem of late but the Pelicans won the battle of the boards 55-46.
The turnover issue remains a concern.
In the six game losing streak, the Pelicans turned it over 16, 12, 15, 16, 20 and 15, an average of 15.7 per game.
Niko Mirotic shot poorly (4-of-14, including 1-of-8 from 3-point range) but pulled down 15 rebounds as he remains among the league’s top rebounders. E’Twaun Moore connected on three triples.
Most encouraging was that New Orleans, perhaps the worst defensive team in the league, to this point, held an opponent under 100 points for the first time this season. The Bulls shot just 39.6 percent as the Pelicans, who thrive on running, getting off as many shots as possible and outscoring opponents won this game with defense and rebounding.
Alvin Gentry would like to settle on a more consistent rotation.
It is clear that Johnson figures in that mix. When Payton returns, look for Tim Frazier to disappear. Ian Clark will still play but could see reduced minutes. Miller and Julius Randle are primary off the bench. Cheick Diallo is getting has played in four straight games in six of the last seven and will get some time if he plays with great energy.
Solomon Hill played his way out of the rotation. Jahlil Okafor has not played in five of the last 10 games and played one minute in one of the other games in that stretch. Frank Jackson has not played in the last two games and played one minute in the previous game.
New Orleans has a shot to get back to .500 Saturday night and should do so.
The Suns are just 2-8 and very young. These are the games you must win if you want to play in the postseason. Defending better and rebounding will certainly help the cause.Davis caught an entry pass a few feet from the basket, hesitated and missed a contested layup.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…