The Pelican Blog

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Pelicans.com postgame: Pelicans 104, Grizzlies 98

By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer

It’s only been 12 days since Anthony Davis was sidelined in New York City by a broken left hand, but the New Orleans Pelicans are playing like they may be able to continue winning without their rising second-year star.

By pulling away in the second half Friday, New Orleans (11-10) posted its second straight victory and improved to 3-2 in full games since Davis was injured against the Knicks. The Pelicans also won the game in which Davis was injured, despite the power forward missing the final three-plus quarters.

Although there was plenty of initial skepticism about New Orleans’ short-term future sans Davis, the Pelicans again demonstrated that they may have enough firepower elsewhere in the lineup. The team’s biggest offseason acquisition, point guard Jrue Holiday played arguably his best game as a Pelican, notching 20 points, 12 assists and zero turnovers, the latter a statistic that had Holiday smiling in the locker room afterward.

“That’s a good feeling,” Holiday said when told of his flawless floor game. “I can go home and sleep well tonight.”

Holiday’s fellow starting guard, Eric Gordon, has also helped the Pelicans compete at a high level over this recent stretch. Gordon notched a team-best 25 points vs. Memphis on ultra-efficient 10-for-12 shooting. The sixth-year pro missed 41 games last season, but his presence and availability for each of New Orleans’ 21 games in 2013-14 has been invaluable, particularly lately. He also was a perfect 3-for-3 from three-point range.

“When we needed a bucket, when we needed him to make a play for us tonight, he was really, really good,” Pelicans Coach Monty Williams said.

Rounding out a high-scoring trio that piled up 63 points was Ryan Anderson, who netted 18 points and again persevered through a cold start shooting the ball.

A potential concern from Friday’s win was that Tyreke Evans aggravated the left ankle sprain that kept him out of six preseason games and recently threatened to put him out of the mix for 1-2 weeks. Late in the first half, Evans drove to the basket but stepped on another player’s foot. Evans shot the subsequent two free throws but did not return for the second half. X-rays on his ankle were negative.

Evans did not rule out being able to play in the next game Sunday at Denver, the first stop on a five-game road trip for New Orleans. The Pelicans will practice Saturday before a mid-afternoon flight to Colorado.

“I’m going to see how I feel cutting,” Evans said of his status. “It’s definitely frustrating, but it’s a part of basketball. Icing kind of helped (ease) the pain, but it’s still kind of sore.”

The Pelicans trailed 34-26 after a quarter Friday, as a result of a scorching-hot initial 12 minutes by the Grizzlies. New Orleans dominated the middle periods, however, by a 56-31 margin. The Pelicans built a lead of as many as 19 points in the second half before the Grizzlies mounted a late rally. Holiday quelled the Memphis push with a back-breaking three-pointer, giving New Orleans a 103-93 edge with 54 seconds remaining. After a 3-6 start to the regular season, the Pelicans have now won eight of their last 12 games.

“Obviously, guys are a bit more comfortable with our system,” Williams said of the recent improved play. “I just think we have this attitude of fighting, no matter what the situation. We’ve been down, we’ve been in tough situations and guys just continue to fight and stick to our system. Our mind-set has to be no matter what happens, we have to stay the course. I think that’s what we’ve been able to do all season long and we just have to take the wins when we can.”