Pelicans end road trip with win over the Lakers
Other than LeBron James, there aren’t many NBA players who get to play back-to-back games near where they grew up as a youngster, but the schedule provided a nice weekend trip home for Los Angeles native Jrue Holiday. The Pelicans’ point guard, who grew up a Lakers fan, was quiet in Saturday’s loss to the Clippers, but delivered one of his best recent games Sunday against the team he rooted for back in the day.
Holiday’s 22 points and eight assists spearheaded New Orleans (9-10) to a much-needed victory, enabling the Pelicans to wrap up their California-only road trip in positive fashion. Over the previous two games, New Orleans was beaten soundly by elite Pacific Division squads Golden State and the Clippers. The 2013 All-Star notched just seven points and six assists Saturday, but bounced back in a big way against the purple and gold. Holiday scored double-digits in both halves on the Lakers and connected on four of his five three-point attempts.
“I tried to be more aggressive offensively. Obviously that helped us out tonight,” Holiday said. “My jump shot was falling. I was trying to make the right plays and help my team. It was the last game of our road trip. We really wanted to go home on a good note.”
Meanwhile, Anthony Davis made his usual impact by leading New Orleans in scoring with 23 points on 11-for-15 shooting from the field. In a matchup featuring the NBA’s top two point producers, Davis outscored Lakers guard Kobe Bryant by a 23-14 margin. It was Bryant’s third-lowest offensive output of 2014-15 and part of New Orleans’ excellent defensive performance. The Pelicans held the Lakers (5-16) to just 16 first-quarter points and 19 in the third quarter, when they took over the game. It was 50-40 at halftime, but New Orleans used a 29-19 edge to go up 79-59.
“It’s a sign we were locked in, playing our type of defense,” Davis said. “Knowing that Kobe’s going to try to go out there and score. We wanted to go back home on a good note, go home with a win. We played for the whole 48 minutes, played for each other, sharing the ball, not caring who scores. We defended – holding a team like that to 87 is huge for us. Now we’ve got to build on that going into our next game.”
New Orleans, which next hosts New York on Tuesday, has been inconsistent recently, but also has experienced one of the NBA’s toughest schedules, tied for the fewest home games in the league. After losing by 20-plus points in the defeats to Golden State and the Clippers, the Pelicans welcomed a victory during which most of their rotation made notable contributions. Reserves Ryan Anderson (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Alexis Ajinca (10 points, 4-for-4 shooting) joined Holiday and Davis in double-digits. Brand-new Pelicans subs Dante Cunningham and Gal Mekel added seven points and four assists, respectively. Fifth-year head coach Monty Williams was also pleased that 28 of his team’s 43 baskets were assisted.
“A great team wins in every essence of that phrase, (including) when we have 28 assists,” Williams said. “I thought we played a great team game. Defensively, we were good, especially in the first half. I can’t say enough about the ball movement and the unselfish play. Now the test is to see if we can continue it. Every time we play like this, we give ourselves a chance to win, and we usually win those games.”
Davis: “When we’re playing together, playing for each other, like we did tonight, I know we’re going to be a tough team to beat. But when we start just going out there trying to do isolations for ourselves, it’s tough. When we don’t move the ball, or talk on defense, or help each other out, we can easily be beaten. We’ve got to make sure we remember this feeling, and the feelings of Golden State and the Clippers, and try to build on it.”