Pelicans.com postgame: Clippers 108, Pelicans 95
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
LOS ANGELES – If there were any doubts about whether Anthony Davis was OK to return from his Dec. 1 injury of a fractured left hand, they were erased almost immediately Wednesday. Davis, who sustained the injury while trying to reel in an alley oop pass in New York, was on the back end of around a dozen similar plays against the Clippers. Davis turned many of those into scores, highlighting his 24-point, 12-rebound performance, in 32 minutes of playing time.
Davis’ return game did not go nearly as well for the Pelicans overall, however. The Clippers (18-9) gradually took command of Wednesday’s game by outscoring the Pelicans (11-13) in each of the first three quarters, taking a 78-65 lead into the final 12 minutes. They maintained that 13-point advantage and handed New Orleans its third straight loss to start a five-game Western Conference road trip.
In another Pelicans return to the court, Tyreke Evans registered a unique triple-double, with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. Evans shot just 2-for-10 from the field though, missing on his first six shots as he tried to regain his rhythm following a sprained left ankle injury. It was just the second triple-double of Evans’ five-year NBA career and first since his 2009-10 Rookie of the Year campaign.
“It was good to see AD had a double-double, and I think Tyreke had a triple-double,” Pelicans fourth-year coach Monty Williams said of the dual returns. “Unfortunately we don’t have a win to celebrate that.”
Other than Evans’ sluggish shooting start, neither returnee appeared fazed by having been sidelined recently. Williams approached the game similarly to any other, with one notable exception: he brought Davis off the bench in each half.
“I’m just throwing them in the fire,” Williams said. “If you’re healthy, I’ll put you back out there in your normal rotation. They both were a bit rusty in the first half I thought, but in the third quarter and for the rest of the game, they looked like themselves again.”
“He came out with good energy, was running really hard and was really effective in transition,” Pelicans center Jason Smith said of Davis, who had seven dunks. “That’s what he does. He hasn’t skipped a beat. And Tyreke played really, really well. Any time you get a triple-double, that’s pretty amazing. Obviously you want it on a winning effort, but you’ve still got to give him credit. He wasn’t shooting the ball well, but he came out and gave us other things. He was moving the ball and really getting our offense going.”
In yet another intriguing storyline Wednesday, Austin Rivers suffered his first head-to-head NBA loss against his father, Clippers Coach Doc Rivers. As a New Orleans rookie, Austin picked up a win in the only game he played in 2012-13 vs. Boston, when Doc was the sideline leader of the Celtics. After two straight quality performances, Austin was quiet Wednesday, scoring two points in 15 minutes.
“Going against your own son, it’s no fun for you,” Doc said after his team’s third straight win. “When he has the ball as a parent you’re like, ‘Don’t get hurt, don’t make a mistake, but turn the ball over.’ I don’t get a lot of enjoyment out of it, but I thought I would. I don’t know what parent is going to cheer against his own kid.”
For the third consecutive game, New Orleans shot poorly, making it virtually impossible to win against a quality opponent. The Pelicans have shot 43.5, 37.5 and 39.8 percent from the field in the losses, respectively. Wednesday’s defeat dropped the Pelicans to 4-8 on the road, including 1-7 against fellow Western Conference teams. New Orleans is hopeful that with Davis and Evans back on the court, it can improve in an area that will be crucial to remaining in playoff contention. The last Pelicans road win vs. a West opponent was Nov. 6 at Memphis.
“I think we’ve just got to work on playing on the road and getting better at that,” Evans said. “We tend to play differently on the road. We’ve got to figure out a way to take good shots and move the ball, just try to play together and make it work.”