Pelicans.com postgame: Pelicans 88, Bulls 79
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
When injuries started piling up for the New Orleans Pelicans in early January, Monty Williams described his reconfigured group as a “brand-new team.” Williams knew that with numerous players being forced into larger, mostly unfamiliar roles, it might take time to develop chemistry and form a cohesive rotation.
A few weeks later, that appears to be happening. New Orleans (20-26) won for the fourth time in its last five games – including a 4-0 mark when rising star Anthony Davis has played – by posting a relatively comfortable win over Chicago (23-23).
Davis led the way with 24 points, eight rebounds and six blocks, but it was far from a one-man show for the Pelicans, who turned in one of their most balanced performances of 2013-14. Eight players tallied at least six points; everyone who got on the floor scored at least four points.
New Orleans gradually built a 16-point lead by outscoring Chicago in each of the first three quarters, to go up 50-39 at halftime and 71-57 entering the fourth period.
“It’s settled in for us that this is our team,” Williams said. “It’s a new team. It’s been our training camp basically for the past three weeks. Our guys understand that we’re not making any grandiose trades that are going to change our team. This is our group. That’s my mind-set going forward.”
“We know guys are going to get injured – it happens in the game,” Davis said. “We’ve accepted it. We know this might be the team that we have for the rest of the season. We have to definitely keep doing what we’ve been doing for the last four or five games, and try to gel even more, so we can go to the next level.”
Two days after learning that he was not selected by Western Conference coaches as an All-Star reserve, Davis again delivered an impressive performance in a Pelicans victory. Matched up against Eastern Conference All-Star center Joakim Noah, he was an extremely efficient 10-for-14 from the field. He spearheaded the New Orleans defense, which limited Chicago to just 38.6 percent shooting, by swatting six shots and coming up with three steals.
“No matter how you slice it, you want to be recognized as one of the best,” Williams said of Davis and All-Star voting. “When you’ve played as well as he’s played, he can say what he wants (publically), but he wants (All-Star recognition). And we all believe he deserves it. I told him, you’ve just got to keep doing what you’re doing, prove everybody wrong. My thing now is, (he can still be) All-NBA, or Defensive Player of the Year. If you keep playing like that and they don’t give it to you, then we’re all going to have a problem.”
“Nah, I’m not trying to prove anything,” Davis responded when asked if he was trying to show that the West coaches were mistaken in leaving him off the All-Star roster. “Everybody knows what I can do and what I’m capable of. I’m just trying to go out there and do what we did tonight, get a win against a great Bulls team. My teammates were doing a great job of getting me the ball where I could score. I’m not trying to prove anything. It is what it is.”