Pelicans take over market as focal point
Perhaps you didn’t notice and who could blame you?
With virtually all eyes fixated on the Saints and their game at Minnesota, the Pelicans New Orleans moved past the halfway mark of the season with a dramatic 123-118 overtime win at New York over the Knicks Sunday.
It was a stirring comeback victory. New Orleans trailed 96-82 going to the fourth quarter before limiting New York to 13 points in the final quarter and forcing overtime. In the overtime period, Jrue Holiday scored nine points to lead the Pelicans to the big win.
With the win, the Pelicans climbed to sixth in the Western conference at 22-20, just a half game behind the Thunder for fifth place.
The road trip continues Tuesday night at Boston against one of the league’s best teams in the Celtics. Boston is 34-10, leading the Eastern conference and the Celtics have a seven game win streak.
As I have stated for over a month now, New Orleans has a real shot to finish as high as fifth. The fourth spot is not out of reach but Minnesota is up by five and a half games on the Pelicans and the Timberwolves have swept three games from New Orleans.
Denver is a good home team (15-5) but bad on the road (7-16). Portland has good guard play but the Blazers have chemistry issues and are average overall. Oklahoma City’s big three of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony have been less than overwhelming. The Clippers are playing well, have reached .500 with four straight wins and are trending up.
Anthony Davis had a monster game at New York with 48 points, 17 rebounds, four steals and three blocked shots. He was coming off of a 36-point performance in an important win over Portland. In those two games combined, Davis played 91 minutes, a huge workload, to be certain.
When Davis is superb and Demarcus Cousins posts his typical double-double, it often comes down to Holiday playing at a high level.
When Holiday does, the Pelicans are good.
In his last two games, both wins, Holiday scored 31 and 25 points, respectively. Surprisingly, New Orleans is only 9-6 when Holiday scores 20 or more points, a good but not outstanding mark.
New Orleans is 5-2 when E’Twaun Moore scores 20 or more points.
Ironically, New Orleans is just 4-5 with Cousins scores 30 or more points.
New Orleans wins when there is more of a semblance of balance.
When Darius Miller scores in double figures, the Pelicans are 9-4. He is the best scoring option off the bench.
While this Pelicans team is maddening with its potential versus its inconsistency, it is a team with the potential to post a winning record and the odds are that they will make the playoffs. There is the hope of having Solomon Hill back and contributing after the All-Star break, which should improve the team’s depth. Only Golden State, Houston and San Antonio are clearly better than New Orleans in the conference.
Then again, the question remains—can New Orleans make the playoffs and win a round? The five-spot is the goal. While Minnesota is 3-0 against the Pelicans, the Timberwolves are not invincible.
Now that the Saints are done, focus will shift to the Pelicans. A good run could result in increased fan interest and attendance. With Davis and Cousins, there will always be superb performances and entertainment provided. As stated on many occasions, it will come down to limiting turnovers, playing more consistent defense and more consistent bench productivity.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and 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 Football Foundation, College…