Pelicans roll over LeBron and the Cavs, 123-101

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NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Pelicans were looking to win back to back games for the first time this season, get to .500 for the first time in more than two years, and pick up their seventh consecutive home victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers Saturday night.

Just six games into the season, the Pels had the opportunity to make a statement. What a statement it was as the Pelicans ran away from the Cavs 123-101 for the third New Orleans win in their last four games.

New Orleans got major production from its starting unit as Anthony Davis, Boogie Cousins, Jrue Holiday, E’Twaun Moore, and Dante Cunningham combined for 114 points, 36 rebounds, 23 assists, and 6 steals.

Cousins, fresh off his 41-point, 23-rebound effort against Sacramento, picked up the seventh triple-double of his career with 29 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists. Davis added 30 points and 14 boards. E’Twaun Moore tied his career-high with 24 points and Holiday continued his strong play of late with 29 points and seven assists.

Once again, the Pelicans got off to a good start. The offense was able to play through Cousins who had four assists in the opening frame. The Pels had outstanding ball movement and were able to get baskets cutting to the rim and from a number of wide open looks. The Pels shot better nearly 61 percent in the quarter, taking a 35-22 lead.

Defensively, New Orleans was locked in as well. They held the Cavs to 7-of-20 shooting over the first 12 minutes and forced five Cleveland turnovers. For the Pelicans, the effort on that end of the court made all the difference.

“It started on defense,” said Moore. “We made them try to earn everything, staying between them and the rim. And once we got started, we were able to get out in transition and get some easy buckets.”

Cleveland was able to play even with the Pelicans in the second quarter, with each team posting 30 points. But New Orleans headed into the locker room with the 65-52 advantage.

In the first half, Pelicans starters scored 62 of the team’s 65 points and the team tied the Pelicans franchise record with 21 assists. New Orleans finished with a season-high 33 dimes.

“We started the game the right way, and we played well,” said Head Coach Alvin Gentry. “I thought we played a really great first half.”

“We are just starting to understand what it takes to win games,” added Cousins. “Everybody on the floor is touching the ball. It’s not being stuck on one side of the floor. We would just keep it on one side of the floor and it made other teams’ job easier to guard us. So, we are understanding that and we are in a good rhythm.”
The Cavaliers couldn’t find the beat for most of the first half, especially with the Pelicans’ guards playing so well.

“They get the ball and push it,” said Cavs forward Kevin Love, who had 26 points and 11 rebounds. “They spread the guys around more. Jrue Holiday did a great job of finishing and getting other guys involved. They were a tough team to defend.”

However, the Cavs made a charge to open the third quarter, outscoring New Orleans 21-7 over the first six minutes to take a 73-72 lead. But the Pelicans responded by closing the period on a 17-10 run, and taking an 89-83 lead into the fourth.

“I thought we had gotten away from what we were doing that got us the lead,” said Gentry. “I thought we started to just stand around a little bit. After the timeout, we went back out and started back on the pace that got us there.”

That pace continued into the final 12 minutes, with New Orleans going on a 21-8 run to open the quarter, extending the lead to 19, and putting the Pels up 110-91 with just over six minutes to play.

During that stretch, Anthony Davis took control, scoring 12 consecutive points for the Pelicans, including a pair of three pointers and an emphatic putback dunk that brought the crowd to its feet. That effectively shut the door on any chance of a Cleveland comeback as the Cavs got no closer than 16 points the rest of the way.

While it’s still very early in the season, the Pelicans have not dug a hole like the ones that they were unable to climb out of the past two seasons. This group feels it can be special and they aren’t afraid to say it.

“When we play like this, we’re a tough team to beat,” said Davis. “We’re gonna be a special team. We feel it. We don’t just feel it, we know it. We just gotta keep playing the way that we’ve been playing; playing hard on defense and sharing the basketball.”

The Pelicans get an opportunity to move above .500, both overall and at home on Monday night against the Orlando Magic. It won’t be easy, as the Magic have been a surprise early on, sitting atop the Eastern Conference.

Game time is set for 7:00 pm at the Smoothie King Center.

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David Grubb

Sports 1280am host/CCS reporter

David Grubb has more than a decade of experience in the sports industry. He began his career with KLAX-TV in Alexandria, La. and followed that up with a stint as an reporter and anchor with WGGB-TV in Springfield, Mass. After spending a few years away from the industry, David worked as sports information director for Southern University at New Orleans…

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