Pelicans trio excels in USA Basketball showcase game
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
LAS VEGAS – As basketball exhibitions go, Thursday’s USA Basketball showcase game was a surprisingly entertaining one to watch. Especially for New Orleans Pelicans fans.
With three players in uniform, there was at least one Pelican on the court for nearly the entire game. Furthermore, Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson all capitalized on their minutes, compiling quality outings in the White team’s 128-106 victory over the Blue squad.
A closer look at each Pelican’s performance Thursday:
• Davis was the Blue team’s best player, with 22 points and seven rebounds, highlighted by 10-for-13 shooting. The second-year pro narrowly missed game scoring honors, but Kyrie Irving (23 points) dropped in a pair of fourth-quarter free throws with the outcome already decided. Davis was impressive on the offensive end, dropping in a handful of 20-foot jumpers, while also throwing down three dunks. In a "SportsCenter"-worthy sequence, Davis snatched a White team alley-oop pass out of the air, dribbled the length of the court and glided in for a slam. "As good as he was last year, he's just stepped it up another couple levels," USA Coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "That was exciting to see. He got better throughout the week, and put on a heck of a performance tonight."
• Holiday didn’t have a great shooting night (6-for-13) and started slowly, but was a key to the White team’s victory with an all-around display consisting of 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists. "He's a guy that can change the game without scoring," Monty Williams said. "People don't recognize that, because he's scored so much last year. His main asset, in my opinion, is his versatility as a big guard." The former Philadelphia point guard is known around the NBA for having one of the best left hands in the league, something he repeatedly relied upon Thursday on finishes at the rim.
• Anderson was prototypical Anderson, nailing all three of his three-point attempts, to account for his nine points. He also had two rebounds in just 13 minutes. Anderson joked after the game that once he started getting hot from long distance, the White team head coach – none other than Monty Williams – kept taking him out of the game.
Speaking of Williams, he coached the White team, while Chicago’s Tom Thibodeau was the Blue team’s head coach. With Williams aligned on the White side, Williams also had Pelicans assistant coach Randy Ayers and trainer Jon Ishop on his bench. As a result, Davis was the only New Orleans participant who came away with a loss Thursday, although the 6-foot-10 power forward nearly captured game MVP honors. That award went to Irving, who dazzled during his 23-point, seven-assist outing.