Pelicans strong early, solid late in 112-109 win over Pistons
NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Pelicans continued to dance around the .500 mark with a 112-109 win over the Detroit Pistons at the Smoothie King Center last night.
The Pelicans won despite not having Anthony Davis on the floor for the entire fourth quarter. Davis left the game with 4:44 remaining in the third after injuring his ankle, having scored a game-high 30 points to go along with 10 rebounds in just 27 minutes. New Orleans was also maintaining an 81-71 lead.
Upon Davis’ exit, Detroit immediately took advantage with a 13-5 run to close the quarter. The Pels gave the Pistons all the help they could by going 2-for-6 from the floor, 0-3 from beyond the arc. They also turned the ball over three times; a series a miscues that included a double-dribble violation on Jrue Holiday and a 24 second clock violation. To top it off, they committed three shooting fouls, giving the Pistons points without taking time off the clock.
Leading 86-84 after three, the New Orleans Pelicans were given a choice. Make enough plays to win an absolutely crucial home game, or fold once again under the weight of mental mistakes and wasted possessions.
It appeared that the Pelicans had initially chosen the latter as the Pistons opened the fourth quarter with five straight points, taking an 89-86 lead with 11:06 remaining.
Then “Boogie” happened.
For three quarters it seemed as if DeMarcus Cousins’ head was anywhere besides in the game. Possibly, his thoughts were in Atlanta as his beloved Crimson Tide were facing off against Georgia for the national championship. Regardless, Cousins was essentially a non-factor for the game’s first 36 minutes.
After three quarters, Cousins had scored only five points on 1-for-5 shooting. He had four turnovers, three fouls, and a technical foul that pushed the Pelicans’ center to slam a water bottle on the court, causing a brief delay while the ice was removed.
Surely, many a fan contemplated doing the same with their beverage of choice as they watched the Pelicans surrender another double-digit lead at home.
But Boogie arrived quietly with a free throw after being fouled by Tobias Harris. After Harris missed a jumper on the other end, Boogie knocked down his first three-pointer of the game to put the Pels back in front at 90-89. With Harris missing again, the Pelicans were able to get into transition and Jrue Holiday would find Cousins for a lay-up. Boogie had gone on a 7-0 run in 59 seconds.
Jrue Holiday would briefly interrupt the DeMarcus Cousins show with a layup of his own, but Boogie completed an “and-one” on the next possession and followed that up with a powerful drive to the basket and suddenly the Pelicans were up 99-91 and the crowd at the Smoothie King Center was on its feet.
Detroit would make a final run, outscoring New Orleans 14-6 to tie the game at 105 with 2:01 to play. Once again Cousins responded. He grabbed the rebound of a Holiday missed layup and made the putback to retake the lead.
Another defensive rebound started the Pels’ fast break, leading to a Rajon Rondo score to push the lead back to four.
Boogie would finish the fourth quarter with 15 points, four rebounds, a pair of blocked shots, and perhaps most importantly only one turnover. He would end the game with 20 points and 10 boards for his 30th double-double of the season. Cousins knew the responsibility of carrying the Pelicans to their 20th victory of the year fell on his shoulders once Davis went down.
“It’s like common sense, I beleive. Somebody had to pick up the slack,” Cousins said. “I let some bad calls get to me early. I was just kinda out of rhythm.”
“DeMarcus, he’s always been just that competitor,” added Jrue Holiday, who scored 14 points. “When it’s his time to take over, he does that and he does it big.”
The Pelicans will head back out on the road to face the Memphis Grizzlies (12-27) on Wednesday before hosting the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.
Rajon Rondo set another Pelicans franchise-record with 9 first quarter assists. He finished the game with 12 points and 15 assists, his seventh double-double of the year.
New Orleans had 31 total assists on 46 made baskets. The Pelicans rank second in the NBA in assists at 26.6 per game.
E’Twaun Moore scored 23 points on 11-14 shooting for his seventh game with 20 or more points this season.
New Orleans beat the Pistons in steals (7-5) and blocks (9-4), but committed 18 turnovers.
The Pelicans were dominant on the fast break, scoring 30 points in transition. They also beat the Pistons inside, outscoring Detroit 68-50 in the paint.
Both DeMarcus Cousins and Alvin Gentry were assessed technical fouls in the second quarter.
After playing seven minutes in the first half, Jameer Miller did not play in the second. His minutes when to Ian Clark, who finished as the only reserve with a positive +/-.
New Orleans shot 56 percent from the floor, but continued its recent struggles with the three-pointer. The Pelicans were just 6-for-22 from beyond the arc. Cousins, Holiday, Moore, and Darrius Miller combined to shoot 3-for-15.
New Orleans shot poorly at the free throw line, making just under 67 percent of their attempts (14-21).
New Orleans has won nine straight against the Pistons at home.
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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…